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Colon Leftbracket's Reviews

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Unique Critique: Pre-E3 VIDEO SPECIAL

Unique Critique has its first VIDEO SPECIAL!!!!!! I figured this would be a bit more special then my usual walls of text! yeah... my laptop has a pretty shitty Webcam, but the audio is decent. Let me know what you think, expect the E3 follow up Unique Critiques to be done in a similar fashion,

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Unique Critique: MASSIVE CHALICE! Kickstarter

So the other day I was on Twitter and suddenly I noticed Tim Schafer say they had something exciting to announce soon... Now if you don't know me, I freakin' ADORE Tim Schafer and I LOVE Double Fine, so things like this get me REALLY hyped up!   Needless to say a few hours pass and I see this...     Yep, you heard right! Double Fine launched their second Kickstarter project and it is called MASSIVE CHALICE!   http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublefine/double-fines-massive-chalice   ---   Now there's something I really liked about this project that had me sold even before they explained what the game was about... and that's Brad Muir!   Brad Muir is one of Double Fine's extremely talented programmers and designers whom I also adore quite a bit. Certainly he isn't as memorable as Tim Schafer, and some people might be bummed that Tim isn't even on the development team for MASSIVE CHALICE, but trust me... Brad's a great project lead!   Need proof? Well Brad Muir lead 2 pretty successful Amnesia Fortnight projects already. The first one which was called Custodians of the Clockwork (I may have got that name wrong) which was a tactical tower defense game with a steampunk theme... don't recognize it... well it turned into a game called Trenched which turned into a game called Iron Brigade!   He also lead another Amnesia Fortnight project called Brazen! Its basically Monster Hunter meets Ray Harryhausen. Unfortunately it seems Double Fine have been having difficulties getting it through to a publisher... shame. The prototype was made playable in last year's Amensia Fortnight, and was offered again during their Humble Bundle.     He also pitched a concept called Kaiju Piledriver last year... it just barely missed its mark to get made into a prototype... but damn... just its name makes me want to play it!   So basically Brad Muir is a cool guy who really deserves a chance to make MASSIVE CHALICE! He's also just a cool dude in general when I saw him on Amnesia Fortnight livestreams or in the Double Fine Action Forums.   ---   But hey, what about MASSIVE CHALICE? Well it seems to be this bizarre tactical RPG hybrid. There isn't much to go on with specific mechanics, but it seems to be a game geared towards people who love tactics games like X-COM, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, and a feudal fantasy theme similar to that tv show that everyone wants me to watch Game of Thrones.   The game so far seems to be centralized around commanding generations of heroes in long running bloodlines. A lot of the game will be spent just raising these Houses to create massive families of epic heroes. And also slaying demons... there's that too.   This seems like a solid game concept and we've only scratched the surface. The MASSIVE CHALICE forums are alive with people coming up with interesting ideas and the developers noting down what people seem to want and what good ideas they're consumers have for their game. Its another example of Double Fine's openness with their consumer base that I love. Already in the few days the Kickstarter has been up and people have been coming up with neat ideas about how skills and traits can be passed down through Family Genetics or Family Training. Even more controversial topics have been raised like Same Sex marriages possibly being in the game which seemed like an unlikely concept due to the initial concept's focus on genetics, but then with some consumer and developer input, people have brought up ways it might be able to be done.   Or in a lot lesser words... this game is going to be hype!   ---   Also... One Month... $100... One Bloodline... Last time, I missed the Kickstarter for Double Fine Adventure... This time, I'm going all in...   HOUSE YOCCA OR BUST!   I'm making it my own goal to personally raise and back $100 to get the House Yocca Bloodline into MASSIVE CHALICE! I want my name to be immortalized among the powerful dynasties of MASSIVE CHALICE! The Shafers, The Muirs, and the other Houses of the kingdom will band together to fight the demons, and I want House Yocca to be there...   ---   But why Kickstarter... again?   Now I've seen quite a lot of people get up in arms about Double Fine quickly returning to Kickstarter, claiming that the company's greed has caused them to abuse crowd funding... I disagree entirely.   People see Kickstarter as this Indie Game generator. Certainly it was cool when Double Fine did it once, but people seem to think that having Double Fine dip in it again is asking for too much. Really? You mean the very people who made Kickstarter what it is today shouldn't be allowed to go back? That sounds kinda silly. Also Double Fine might just spark some more interest into Kickstarter again making more possible backers come back to the site. After Double Fine's initial Kickstarter I kept going back to check out other ones and made my donations. Who's to say others won't do the same?   Also Kickstarter isn't made just for nobody Indie Games... actually it really wasn't specifically made for games in the first place, but what it is for video games is an alternative publishing method. Double Fine have stated that they have had trouble finding good publisher deals for their games. And they have people to put to work so why not crowdfund to publish another project.   But Double Fine Adventure made SOO much money, why do they need more from us?   Well that money was raised for Double Fine Adventure and Double Fine Adventure ONLY! Those millions go only into that project. If they went anywhere else, they'd be stealing from their backers.   But Double Fine Adventure isn't finished. I need to see results from Double Fine Adventure before I invest in a new project.   Actually... that's fine. I personally think what they've done and shown for us is more than enough for me to want to invest again without seeing a finished product yet, but its fine to have that mindset, its your money. But this thought that Double Fine should be required to finish a Kickstarter Project before starting a new one is ridiculous. That is not how games publishing works. A developer can get multiple games published simultaneously from one publisher as long as the developer has a team to work on the second project. Kickstarter is essentially a publisher so they can go back to the crowd as frequent as they damn well feel like it.   ---   So will MASSIVE CHALICE get backed? Will MASSIVE CHALICE be the new tactical RPG that has been prophecized to win the hearts of tactical RPG fans everwhere? Will House Yocca become the strongest dynasty of the land and smite all foes that stand before them?   Only time will tell!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Unique Critique: Console Conundrum!

MAN! Have I been busy lately! Anyway Unique Critique is back and here to critique things... uniquely in some sort of way... I guess.   So how about them console launches lately! WOW!   Basically if you exist on the internet you've probably heard of the big new video game consoles that have been gather quite the buzz recently. Most of what I see is confusion, and perhaps a lot of the fog will be lifted when E3 comes around.   Though a video game console is a HUGE investment. There's the cost of the machine itself, games to fill your library, controllers, and other peripherals that a console and its games demand. People are confused on what console they should purchase this winter, and rightfully so.   Perhaps I can help shed some light on the situation and give my perspective on our "new gen" consoles.   Now before you claim I'm biased against one company or another I've owned multiple consoles from all of the major industries. I've owned multiple Nintendo Consoles, Multiple Playstations, and an Xbox 360. Currently I have in my possession only a PS2, a Wii, and a 3DS. That's it! I've recently sold my Xbox 360 because I wasn't currently using it and won't in the future. Plus a friend wanted it and I made a quick buck, but the Xbox 360 is one of my favorite consoles to date.   Now anyway on with the show.   Nintendo 3DS     The only "new gen" console that I own! And I find it odd that people seem to count out the handheld market as "real consoles". I disagree! Handhelds are one of the fastest growing platforms of entertainment.   And the 3DS is no slouch! The 3DS got a lot of bad press on its launch. People saying that its 3D features are not just gimmicky, but just don't work. That there's no games on 3DS. That its a failure and Nintendo's worst handheld to date.   I personally feel ALL of these are false! At launch the 3DS did suffer from a weak launch library AND was overpriced. Both are fair criticisms of the 3DS at launch, but they don't hold true anymore! There was a major price drop on the 3DS and an XL version with a larger screen that is also priced fairly in my opinion. And the 3DS library has grown fantastically! Its actually putting up a good fight with the major consoles in my opinion. Games such as Mario Kart 7, Mario 3D Land, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon are major sellers of the console and great. Though the 3DS has more to offer than just Mario games. It has other major titles like Fire Emblem: Awakening, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and Resident Evil: Revelations, A few favorite upcoming titles include Shin Megami Tensei IV, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!, Bravely Default Flying Fairy, Legend of Zelda (Link to the Past 2), Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Monster Hunter 4, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, Project X Zone, the next Super Smash Bros., and of course Pokemon X and Y. And we haven't even reach E3 yet!   And funny enough... the only game I own is Fire Emblem: Awakening!   I totally recommend picking up a 3DS! It has one of the deceptively strongest libraries to date! A 3DS is relatively inexpensive. And if the whole 3D aspect has you down, its totally optional, but you may find yourself turning it on anyway! I personally didn't think I'd ever use it, but now it adds to the visual depth of most games. You have to really try it in your own comfortable environment to really get the full experience.   Playstation Vita     The Playstation Vita is a classic example of how power doesn't mean everything. Yes it is leagues over the Nintendo 3DS, but even after literally going through the entire library list of the Playstion Vita, I can't find any standalone game not available anywhere else to make me care. Yeah I'd love a piece of that Persona 4 Golden, but I have P4 at home already so I'm not going to pay an arm and a leg to get it.   Ironically I feel its power is its weakness. Its so powerful that its asking price rivals that of a new PS3... ouch! This leads also to a small market since people can't afford the Vita over other handheld markets. And developing for the Vita is practically like developing for a full fledged console game!   I have never used a Vita and don't really know anybody who has to my knowledge. Perhaps some people here who have one could shed more light on this system. But hey... you can use it with you PS4... wait that's buying 2 consoles!   iPod/iPad/Andriod     Okay... I don't own an iPod. Hell, at the moment I don't even have a phone. My sisters have iPods, older siblings have iPads, my mother has an Android phone. I'm really new to these markets. I know this is where games like Temple Run and Angry Birds got their start, and I hear of hot new Tablet games all the time.   To my knowledge most of what you'll find here are smaller indie titles, but hey those are a blast! And inexpensive too! The Phone and Tablet market are quickly growing to be quite the formidable format to play games!   I'm pretty interested to get in on this. I've always wanted the usefulness of an iPod/Smart Phone device... though I'm not totally sure what to buy.   Ouya     Ah... the little engine that could... or is it? The Ouya is a big thing coming up in the indie scene since its a console made through a Kickstarter campaign. Its to be a big home for indie games that are scared of the big consoles.   ...Though really is that what the above Tablet market is for? Or the PC market? The Ouya is not a very powerful system. Hell its the only console that I've ever heard of being smaller than its own controller! Its a very confusing little curiosity.   At the cheap asking price of $99 I'll probably pick one up just to check it out. I don't really expect this to be the next big thing, but its a fun underdog tale. I'll give it my support. Whether you should or not... I might advise against it, but look it up and if it tickles your fancy it couldn't hurt to own.   Wii U     Ah... we finally hit the big boys... so we start with the runt of the litter! The Wii U launched last year with some mixed opinions. Some said it was an already obsolete upgrade to one of the worst consoles in gaming, an all too gimmicky waste of time. I'd wager otherwise.   I'm a long standing fan of Nintendo, but I was very disappointed in the Wii's performance. I was expecting a supercharged GameCube (my personal favorite console ever), but instead I got a lackluster library. Some people say I should go back and check out a few hidden gems I've missed, much like what I need to do for the Nintendo DS, but I just don't see much at all for me... plus my Wii's a beaten piece of junk anyway.   Needless to say I was hoping the Nintendo Wii U was a huge revival of the Nintendo franchise... and I got a bit of a disappointment. I think Nintendo's strength is more in its 3DS. The Wii U is a machine with a fair share of problems. Up until its recent update it had gross slow loading times! It's giant Wii U Pad is not quite as fun as I thought it would be, a step up from the WiiMote, but still kinda clunky. I suppose I should dish out for a Pro controller.   But its other problem is its library. We got ZombiU and New Super Mario Bros. U... Nintendo Land is a fun time to see what the system can do, but its more of a tech demo if anything. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is much more fun on Wii U than 3DS and even has crossplay between the two systems (a similar system to what we'll see for the new Smash Bros. I'd bet!). A few titles I'm looking forward to are Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 (which Platinum Games decided to launch on my birthday for me, how thoughtful), the new Mario platformer, the next Smash Bros., and the odd crossover of Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.   With the Wii U I suppose we'll see more at E3, but that's the same story with the other consoles. The Wii U has had a year and has produced nothing to write home about. Perhaps this will be another 3DS type story where suddenly the library will explode in the next year or 2. But until then or a nice price drop (hah, just like 3DS) I don't see myself picking this system up for quite some time sadly.   Playstation 4     Well... time for the only console that I can't show and image for its hardaware... mehh.....   I'm a huge fan of the Playstation... Playstation 2 to be specific. My brother was always the Playstation guy, I was more of a Nintendo guy. But even I had to admit that the grass on the other side was pretty freakin green! Recently I've purchased a PS2 so I can buy a bunch of old classics and I'm having a blast...   ...oh wait... that's right... I need to talk about the NEW gen stuff...   You know for people giving Xbox so much shit for "where's the games?" the PS4 press conference was also pretty underwhelming. The only major exclusives that seem like launched titles are Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and maybe that Driveclub game. There was so much attention on games like Watch_Dogs, Destiny, and fucking Diablo III that aren't even technically made for next gen. They are current gen with next gen up-ports. Now I'll probably pick up the games mentioned if I get a PS4 yes, but they really didn't highlight too much how this gives them a reason to side with them.   But yet I'm a bit optimistic for the PS4. It has a few social features I like. Hearing from freakin developers like John Blow about the console is a bit refreshing instead of hearing the publishers. The Dualshock 4 is the biggest change in the dualshock in history, but it looks pretty comfy and nice controller.   And Sony have been keeping quiet. They haven't been tripping over statements like some other guys. Though the silence from Sony could also be scary... maybe the PS4 will have some scary DRM features that Sony just haven't told anyone about yet. We'll see I suppose, but be careful.   Xbox One     Ooops I mean't...     Ahhh yeah... so the main reason I took so long after the Xbox Press Conference to make this is that I wanted to give myself some time to calm down... I has barely made any difference...   Okay the stupid name... whatever we got over the Wii didn't we... deal with it... SPORTS, SPORTS, TV, TV... okay fine so they wanted to drive home this whole TV application of the Xbox One... fine... games are for E3... no real gameplay at the conference... makes the conference kinda boring, but fine... CALL OF DUTY DOG HOO BOY!   It was the new "Giant Enemy Crab" moment in the game industry. Many companies have embarrassing conferences. Hell every E3 for the past few years has been pretty freakin embarrassing for everyone!   But it was after the conference... I was dreading the new generation of consoles for a few reasons... DRM and Online Abuse... the killing of Used Games... these fears have been circulating for a few years now and something inside me figured that no company could be stupid or desperate enough to go through with it....   Then Microsoft.... just wow! One statement after another, slowly falling apart, the publish lashing out at them... Holy hot shit...   I understand. Not everything is final, and Sony could have the same things they're just quiet... I get all that. But if Microsoft does not make a dramatic change in the way they treat their consumer base I WILL NEVER EVER PICK UP AN XBOX ONE EVER! I really cannot make myself more clear. Its something WE DO NOT WANT! Its something only greedy publishers want, but I will not stand for.   Microsoft just wants this to be the future of gaming... but remember... this Online DRM checks, these Used Game charges, these online licences... they're only the future of gaming, if you buy it!   Some say E3 might change everything. Microsoft has 15 exclusive titles lined up... that's a lot! They could be the best games ever... maybe you care... but at this point I don't!   I'd say avoid this console like the plague. If the PS4 suddenly implements similar systems, avoid them too! But hey you do what you want with your money, just consider heavily on your console choice.   PC     Uhh... maybe it's time I finally invest in that new graphics card...

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Hype List: Top 13 Most Anticipated 3DS Games

So like I've said earlier I've made the worthwhile investment of purchasing a 3DS. But unfortunately I haven't gotten any games yet for the things, so I'm pretty game hungry right now. Since I'm starting at square one this Hype List will include 13 games I'm anticipating from the ENTIRE 3DS library, past, present, and future! Any and all games are eligible to win, but only 13 will make my Hype List.   (NOTE: This is a list based purely on personal taste. I'm not picking the "best", just the ones I am personally excited to play.)       13. Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (Spike Chunsoft, Rougelike)   I'll admit, not the best RPG series to come to the 3DS. I briefly played the first Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and felt myself a bit disappointed. I've heard a lot of people claim that they are great, but I've never really felt this greatness. Maybe I just got bored or quit too early before it got good. I might go back and play the other ones and give them another chance, but perhaps I should just start off with this one. It looks to be pretty good and have some pretty neat features. I don't know, I guess I'm mostly hyped out of curiosity to try this series again.     12. Brain Age: Concentration Training (Nintendo SPD, Puzzle)   This is a weird addition to my list. However, I've been a fan of the Brain Age series for a while and this new installment promises something that I desperately need... CONCENTRATION! Man I can never get anything done these days. I'm always so distracted with my laptop and the Internet. I can hardly focus on simple tasks these days. This installment of Brain Age uses memory puzzles to help strengthen you concentration. The demo available shows this through its Devilish Calculations training exercise. Essentially it gives you a series of simple equations, but with a devilish twist! You must memorize the answers for the problem before! This sounds simple, and was pretty simple when I started, but I even got tripped up BADLY at 2-Back (remember 2 answers back). I did piss poor at just 2-Back and the game goes even higher than that! The game promises some mental challenges which I could really use to help my untrained brain. Plus I like mental challenges! Perhaps this is just me, but I'm really psyched to get Brain Age: Concentration Training!     11. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo EAD/Retro Studios, Racing)   Mario Kart is possibly one of the only competitive series I really enjoy actually competing in (other exceptions are probably Pokemon, Smash Bros., and losing friends in Mario Party)! I've heard a lot about the 3DS installment Mario Kart 7, and I hear GREAT THINGS! I don't know about you guys, but my favorite Mario Karts tend to be the handheld ones. Mario Kart DS being the best I've played so far. But I hear that Mario Kart 7 is supposed to be even better!     10. Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney (Level-5/Capcom, Puzzle)     Okay this addition is also a bit strange because it is not confirmed for any international release so far. But really I had both Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask and Ace Attorney 5 on here but I couldn't decide which one I cared about more. So this spot is pretty much just those two games and the tentative release of this crossover!     9. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor: Overclocked (ATLUS, JRPG)   I have picked up a new guilty pleasure. Finding RPG series and reading a lot about them! Recently I bought Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 for my newly bought PS2 and had fun with it. Then I discovered that its only a spin off in one of the most respected and massive JRPG series of all time! Seriously, this series is CRAZY with spin offs! I decided that I wanted to buy more Shin Megami Tensei games... but man where to start... I could start with the originals... but wait they're old Super Famicom games that never came to the US (*cough*But there are fan translated ROMs*cough*)... I could buy the other Personas... but I want new things for my shiny new 3DS (though there is hinted at a "PERSONA" game coming to 3DS, but it is unclear if it is a remake, PERSONA 5, or a new game entirely). Alas there is ONE Shin Megami Tensei game already out on 3DS... and its a DS remake! Devil Survivor: Overclocked is a remake of Devil Survivor that came out on DS quite some time ago, but this remake is said to have a few upgrades that are worth the extra chunk of cash. This will probably one of the first game I decide to hunt down for the console.     8. Fire Emblem: Awakening (Intelligent Systems, Strategy RPG)   Oh... this seems like a low place for what is being known as probably the current best game on the system... my only problem with it is that Fire Emblem isn't exactly my cup of tea. I love the strategy going into this game and the characters and their chance of permadeath can be quite a tense bit of the game. There's a lot about this game I really like... but for some reason I just can't get into it! Maybe I'm just growing tired of medieval era rpgs or I just don't care for the series storyline. Something about it just seems kinda dull for me. Maybe I just need to play more of the series to get attached. This will still likely be the first game I buy for this console, and I'll probably really like it.     7. Super Smash Bros. (3DS) (Sora Ltd/Namco Bandai Games, Fighter)   Okay... there is little to nothing known about this game other than its the new Smash Bros. Still that can't stop me for being hyped about it! A reason why I'm pretty hyped for the 3DS version specifically is that this will be the first Smash Bros. for a handheld system which is pretty cool. Plus not to mention that it is supposed to interact with the Wii U version in some sort of way. I'm thinking something like Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate which players can fight on both 3DS and Wii U at the same time and maybe some other bonuses. I will likely buy both version though.     6. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (Alpha Dream(?), JRPG)   "The Year of Luigi"   Probably one of my favorite RPG series of all time is the Mario & Luigi series. They just have such a great sense of humor and interesting combat. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is probably one of my favorite RPGs of all time! This game looks to be no exception! In this game (just recently announced in the latest Nintendo Direct) you control Mario who adventures into Luigi's dreams. In Luigi's dreams you go on an adventure... though with a fun twist. Luigi helps you alike how he has in the past... but since this is Luigi's dream world he has super special dream powers! There are 2 reasons why I love this; this puts Luigi as superior to Mario for a change and CRAZY SHENANIGANS! I look forward to playing this game when it releases later this year, "The Year of Luigi"!     5. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (ATLUS, JRPG)   You know what's a crying shame? GREAT games that never get localized outside of their region... this is a problem that plagues the JRPG genre and the Shin Megami Tensei series is certainly no stranger to this! Most of the whole damn series have never been localized outside of Japan! ATLUS USA though has been working to remedy this problem. They have been going out of their way to make remakes. Certainly a dedicated effort since they have been even developing for dead consoles years after their superiors rise. The original Soul Hackers came out in Japan on the Sega Saturn, then PS2, and now finally on the 3DS localized to North America this time around! Hell I have never even seen gameplay for this bad boy and it has me pretty damn hyped, mostly because what it represents... hope! (Hey Nintendo, your poor job at localizing the MOTHER Trilogy hasn't gone unnoticed) Plus not to mention I had to read up on the game a bit. Its concept is pretty cool. Digital Demons and a team of hackers! Cool stuff!     4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo EAD, Sim)   YES WE HAVE A RELEASE DATE PEOPLE! JUNE 9th! That aside Animal Crossing has probably been one of my most favorite series in my entire childhood! I got this game on GameCube as a kid and played it to death! I rate it as my favorite GameCube game of all time and probably one of my favorite Nintendo games in existence! As a kid I felt fully immersed in this virtual world of animals living in a village. I made friends, cared for my town, actually I probably got a little too immersed... I grew crushes on certain characters before I ever had any interests in real people as a kid... GEEZE! (I love you Bob, you silly crossdressing cat you! <3) Though there hasn't been too much Animal Crossing love since then. The DS version felt more like a demake and the Wii version felt more like a port with minimal upgrades. BUT, the new 3DS version is what I call the first sequel to the original Animal Crossing. Lot's of upgrades going into this one. Different visuals, new features all over, and this time you get to be mayor! Man I've been hearing hype for this game forever! But soon I'll be able to return to the wonderful world of Animal Crossing!     3. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo/Next Level Games, Action Adventure)   Speaking of long awaited sequels to GameCube classics, the "Year of Luigi" starts next month with the launch of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon! Luigi's Mansion is a game I loved as a kid and still love to this day. I think it might actually be one of if not THE best (along with Pikmin) launch title for any system. This long awaited sequel promises much more with multiple mansion, new mechanics, more ghosts, and even multiplayer modes! This is a game that I have been waiting for quite some time, but the wait is almost over!     2. Pokemon X and Y (Game Freak, JRPG)   I DON'T CARE! "Every new generation is the same!" "The new Pokemon keep getting uglier and uglier!" Well I DISAGREE COMPLETELY! Pokemon to this day even still enraptures me with ever single installment. The new creatures have different and interesting designs, new mechanics are added with every generations that change the games quite a bit, especially competitively, each new generation takes a big step in the graphics department and hell Generation V is my favorite generation for its interesting Pokemon that match my personal tastes (lots of ghosts this time!) and its actually great and interesting story that questions the very moral fiber of the whole series! (In a non PETA sort of way) This new generation looks to be huge! A new completely 3D world with 3D models of every Pokemon. I am 100% HYPED for this upcoming generation!     1. Shin Megami Tensei IV (ATLUS, JRPG)   Sorry Pokemon... you're monsters, world, and fun competitive game... may have been over hyped! One thing I've asked a few people about when it comes to the Shin Megami Tensei series what is their favorite game. Some of course go for the popular PERSONA spin offs, but some people say they enjoy the 3rd installment in the main Shin Megami Tensei series; Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Actually the main series is what I have been reading into the most and it fascinates me to no end. I'll probably get myself a copy and experience what Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has to offer (*cough*And play my way through the fan translated ROMs*cough*) all to hype myself even more for this highly anticipated 4th installment! And every thing I see just for this game alone looks amazing! The trailers shown for it shows some of the best graphics I have ever seen for the 3DS and looks to be one of the biggest titles for the system. I'm boarding the hype train for this game with full force!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

I Just Bought A 3DS

So... I'm a bit late to the party...   But yeah just last weekend I purchased a 3DS (a standard Purple, I should get a Twilight Sparkle sticker for it, its so cute!)! I bought one because surprisingly the 3DS seems like the best worth while investment in any current or future console (Wii U needs a better package, more memory space would be preferable).   So far I really haven't done much with it... I didn't have enough cash to buy any games sadly. Though I'll probably be buying the new Fire Emblem and Luigi's Mansion 2 when it releases and much much more.   I'm actually rather impressed with the 3DS despite not even playing a full game on it yet. The AR Games were a bit fun to play with, there's a rather humorous game called Face Raiders where you shoot people's faces from actual pictures taken with the 3DS camera, and I picked up my first person on Street Pass the other day after taking it into town!   But the big reason I bought it is because I see it as a VERY worth while investment. The current and upcoming 3DS library is REALLY impressive and there's so much I want to play on it... but more on that later.   Also another shocker is that the much snubbed 3D visuals is actually not that bad! I was expecting not to use this feature at all after trying it in a display at Walmart and getting a migraine. I'll admit that its a bit gimmicky and you have to hold it in just the right positions, but it actually does add a lot of depth to games. I think its at least worth a try to see if you think it improves the visuals on your game, some games like Adventure Time look pretty neat, while others like Fire Emblem look a bit iffy, but those are just my opinion!   Hmm... I'm still awaiting some cash to start building my 3DS library. Till then I guess I'll play whatever demos come up on eShop.   So who all here has a 3DS? Are you satisfied with your purchase? What games do you play or are waiting for? Please discuss in the comments below!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

News Critique: Nintendo Direct 2.14.2013 "The (Y)ear of Luigi"

Of course you can just watch it for yourself!       2013 is the (Y)ear of Luigi! And man does Luigi deserve some love! He's been pushed in the background for so long and rarely gets the limelight. He's the Understudy to the prolific Mario!   So of course the first big celebration in the Year of Luigi is the release of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon on 3DS coming next month. Man am I HYPED for this game! It's been years since I've played the original that launched the GameCube (one of my favorite consoles). I'll be really glad to go back into the mansion with my vacuum in hand! I'll probably be picking this one up as close to release as I can!   Furthering the Year of Luigi, is the launch of a new title in a series that I just ADORE! A new installment in the Mario & Luigi RPG series, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team! I REALLY like the concept of this one. You explore Luigi's dreams where he gains Dream Powers to help Mario on his adventure. Just the bits they've showed already has me head over heels for this game!   A few more announcements were an update for New Super Mario Bros. U that stars Luigi alone. A new Zelda community on Miiverse. New DLC updates for Fire Emblem. The long awaited US release date for Animal Crossing: New Leaf (SO HYPED)! Wii Street U. HarmoKnight and Kersploosh. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. A Natsune addition to the Virtual Console including Harvest Moon and Legend of the River King from the GameBoy Color days. And MUCH MORE!   A few more pieces of news I'm pretty stoked for are Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate coming to both 3DS and Wii U that can play and interact together. Injustice: Gods Among Us, a new fighter that takes a unique spin on your favorite DC superheroes. And Donkey Kong Country Returns is being ported to the the 3DS!   There's a lot of 3DS and Wii U news here! Some of it I'm not that excited about, but I'm sure there are points that I skipped that some of you would love to talk about. I personally am more excited about the Year of Luigi announcements, the Animal Crossing: New Leaf release date (June 6th, GET HYPED). Kersploosh! looks pretty interesting! Wii Street U looks kinda useful for me personally. I plan on moving to a city so I'd like to get a bit of an inside look on things before giving it a visit. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Injustice Gods Among Us look great and am glad to see more from them. And the Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D port is a good move on Nintendo.   So what did you think about this Nintendo Direct? What announcements and news pieces are you excited for?

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Know Your Developer

You know what really gets on my nerves? People who can't get their developers right!   Recently I had a discussion with my friends about the THQ Bundle that just went on recently, and I chose to opt out of. I didn't want to help the cause not just on principle or my opinion on the company, but mostly because I didn't care for the games they were selling. Darksiders, Company of Heroes, Red Faction: Armageddon and Saints Row The Third (if you beat the average). On paper this sounds like a good deal! These games I suppose were all $60 titles back in their day and now you can pick them up in one big package for under $10.   That all sounds well and good, but all the games available outside of Saints I see as pretty shitty games. And I can't buy up this bundle to get Saints for cheap because I already own it.   "What, you say you like Saints Row the Third, but you aren't willing to help save the people who made it in their time of need!" says one of my friends. True, if the people who made Saints Row were going down under and gave me a chance to help them out with my pocket change I certainly would, but this isn't the Volition Inc Bundle now it it!   See my friend seems to have his developers and publishers mixed up. THQ is a publisher company who published these games. They didn't develop these games outside of maybe giving a few executive decisions to help the game sell better. And true publishers are an important part of of a game's development seeing that publishers are how a game sees a light of day, but it infuriates me when I see someone treating the publishers like they are the ones who made the title.   And really I don't see THQ publishing many games that I find all that great so I really wouldn't care if the company died out at this point. Yes, Volition Inc would lose their main place to sell their games, but they could possibly find a new home elsewhere.   Though this bundle only really scratches the surface of consumer ignorance. Nintendo seems to be the shining example on people forgetting about the developing company. When you see a First Party Nintendo franchise game, most of the time you just assume that Nintendo made the game. This can often be correct, but you'd be surprised that Nintendo has many other developing companies working on their big franchises. HAL Laboratory Inc., Retro Studios, Game Freak, Team Ninja, the late Hudson Soft, the "might as well be dead" Rare, and many more companies have made Nintendo titles in the past that seem to be forgotten. Though with most cases Nintendo does help develop these games so you aren't wrong in almost all cases by saying Nintendo developed the game, but usually these other companies do most of the heavy lifting and get forgotten.   "Nintendo doesn't make good games anymore," says another one of my friends. Well, they have been giving their titles to other companies more and more often lately, but they still make games. Though perhaps you are too quick to bash Nintendo if you didn't like Metroid Other M (which was mostly developed by Team Ninja), and too quick to praise Nintendo for their Metriod Prime series (which was mostly developed by Retro Studios). They still make good games though! Nintendo EAD Tokyo made the Super Mario Galaxy games which I personally love. Nintendo EAD has made the Animal Crossing series and New Leaf looks fantastic!   I feel the main problem with this is that people don't quite understand development process. Their only clue is the short showing of logos before each game launches and they just go along with the logos they are most familiar with which is usually publisher names. They don't understand that with most cases the company logos are both people who made the games and people who produced it and that there is usually a major difference between the two.   I tend to care more about the development side of the industry. The production side is still VERY important, but in the end I have less respect for them because they aren't the ones slaving over making the games.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

The Hype List: 2013's Top 13 Anticipated Videogames

THE HYPE LIST 2013's Top 13   So lately I've been doing a lot of looking backward which has made me feel like the old man who often complains that "they didn't make these like they did back in my day!" And well, I'm 18 and I shouldn't be acting like an old man. I should be looking forward to our future with youth and optimism.   And with video games we may have a good year a head of us. Yes, I've been looking back at my "Dolphin Days" nostalgia for a while now, but I shouldn't soon forget that there are still good new games!   So I made a Top 13 list of titles I'm hyped up for in 2013. Surprisingly, even with my picky tastes it was hard to even eliminate down to just 13 titles. It was tough but here they all are. Some you've probably expected, some you may be hyped for yourself. Some you might just hear from here and my hype will spread, who knows!   --- BONUS: Kaiju Combat (Fighting, Sunstone Games) http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14214732/kaiju-combat-giant-monsters-awesome-fighting-onlin   I couldn't put this game on the list because it might not happen unless it gets funded via Kickstarter, but I feel it easily would make my top 10 if it goes through!   I LOVE giant monsters! Giant monsters are cool and they NEED more fighting games. Giant monsters seem to be making a bit of a comeback recently with the new movie Pacific Rim with giant monster on robot action (and with oddly distracting GLaDOS voice, but we'll ignore that for now). And this Kickstarter is not just to fund one monster fighter, but a whole series! A "Madden" series for monster fighting! Once or twice a year a new Kaiju Combat will be made with an updated roster of both original monsters as well as some old time greats such as Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, Cthulhu, and even the Stat-Puft Marshmallow Man.   Seriously, for $20 this game is not only a steal, but an investment! If you love big monsters you may want to take a look! ---   13. Star Wars: 1313 (3rd Person Shooter, LucasArts Huh... that's a lot of 13's, and its not like 13 just happens to be my favorite number or anything! But in all seriousness, I'm kinda sad that this game placed so low. I like the new direction and all, but I see this as another "Forced Unleashed" situation. LucasArts find a new successful game (Uncharted) and decides to rip it off with a Star Wars twist (like Unleashed to God of War). And Forced Unleashed was a HUGE disappointment, and its over the top sequel is just an embarrassment.   So it looks to play a lot like Uncharted. Maybe they'll throw a few gimmicks our way, but I see it as another potential disappointment.   But its on the Hype List for a reason! And that is direction! You thought Disney buying LucasArts would turn everything into Space Hannah Montana Well think again because Disney is publishing the first M Rated Star Wars. Star Wars is the one franchise I think can actually go dull and gritty and actually feel fresh. I prefer Star Wars as a family franchise, but I do like to see things branch out a bit.   Plus hey Bounty Hunters are freakin' rad! They are arguably the coolest characters in Star Wars! Screw the glow sticks, give me a flamethrower and some rockets!   ---   12. Watch Dogs (Stealth Action, Ubisoft Montreal)   I see people saying this game is "a modern age Assassin's Creed" and "the game that won E3", and I'd like to agree, but something about it bothers me.   The E3 demo was FANTASTIC... up until the last 5 minutes. Then COVER BASED SHOOTING! Seriously, the hacking mechanics looked great! Hunting the target looked fun, but then the execution (literally) was a boring shootout!   Maybe they'll change that before release, but its certainly a title to look out for.   ---   11. Double Fine Adventure (Adventure, Double Fine Productions)   I'll admit... I don't know that much about this game actually. Mostly because I didn't back its Kickstarter. I can now still back the development with a $30 price tag (which I will soon). Then I can see the behind the scenes look at its development.   And this would place higher if I was a bigger fan of Point-and-Click Adventure games. Its not that I don't like them, but its that I just haven't really played any.   But still Tim Schafer man... he willed his fans to fund the project and they bathed that man in money! And hell, Tim and his Double Fine team is a development team I love so much, they could never do me wrong.   ---   10. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (Survivor Horror, thechineseroom)   Well have you heard of Amnesia? Seriously, you probably have by now. Its an indie game that's been around for a while... and it kinda got famous... Something about it just seemed to capture the emotion of its players... but not quite unbridled childlike wonder though like some games can... but another emotion... Oh yeah! IT SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF YOU!   Seriously, its been a long while that I felt fear from a video game before Amnesia came around. Some people claimed games like Resident Evil and Dead Space to be scary, but really they aren't scary at all. You get big guns and feel too empowered, and thus you can't be afraid!   Amnesia does fear right! You are helpless! Your best bet is to run and hide! But even if you lose the monster, the atmosphere will still get you!   And I'm really glad fear like this gets a sequel. Ever since Amnesia's release there has been a horror craze lately with tons of indie games popping up! Namely one having to do with a guy in a suit who is not scary and might as well be a big troll face icon.... Slender sucks....   I feel that Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs will show these wannabes how horror is done right again. They may need a refresher course because they missed the part when they started shoving memes in our horror games.   ---   9. Bioshock Infinite (First-Person Shooter/RPG, Irrelevant Games)   Here's a game that I am VERY confused about!   Lately, I've been getting bored of shooters. Bored to the point where I'm on a self proclaimed hiatus from the FPS genre until further notice. But I may have to make an exception with Bioshock Infinite.   It seems to be doing what Bioshock 2 should have done in the first place, be a good single player game! Bioshock 2's single player was HORRIBLE! And quite frankly I don't even see why they bothered sticking around Rapture. The first one ended on a fine note, so why go back?   Though there is ONE thing from Bioshock 2 that I'll miss... and apparently I'm the only one I know that feels this way. Bioshock 2's multiplayer will be missed! WOW YES I ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT! I LOVE Bioshock 2's multiplayer! As soon as I got the game I spent 3 straight days playing it! Its probably my favorite online multiplayer shooter ever! ...But I'm really the only one who feel that way, and if it means that the singleplayer won't be shit this time around then I suppose I will compromise. I'm done with competitive shooters anyway.   ---   8. The Cave (2D Platformer, Double Fine Productions)   I remember saying once, "Hey a 2D Psychonauts would be a pretty cool idea" and hell this is close enough! The Cave is a new 2D Platformer made by the lovely people at Double Fine! Essentially you play as multiple characters with different abilities as they explore a mysterious Cave. And Well I'm pretty 2D Platformer hungry about now so I have a mighty need!   Plus hey MORE DOUBLE FINE!   ---     7. The Witness (First-Person Puzzle, Johnathan Blow)   Okay maybe I'd be more hyped for this game if I knew more about it. But its a game that a lot of people are really looking forward to because its developer Jon Blow who created Braid! Braid is probably one of the best 2D Platformers you could ever play.   His new project looks quite interesting, though I know little about it. I'll make sure to do more research on my own, but I'm still looking forward to this one anyway!   ---   6. Grand Theft Auto V (Sandbox, Rockstar Noth)   So the Grand Theft Auto series has been dethroned recently. GTAIV tried a little to hard to immerse you in realism. The city just wasn't as fun as it used to be back in the day. Which is a real shame because San Andreas is one of my favorite games of all time!   Oddly enough, GTAV goes back to San Andreas, but not just as one, but 3 characters. I actually do tend to like the characters in Grand Theft Auto games. I remember as a kid playing the story missions and actually caring about what happened to CJ and the gang, despite me stuffing hamburgers down CJs throat till he burst. So now I have 3 characters and 3 stories to get into which is great for someone like me! For everyone else, just look at this game. San Andreas look beautiful! And apparently its supposed to be massive!   Let's hope Rockstar can win back their crown! I feel they may have learned what works and doesn't work and we'll get another great GTA game to spend hours on!   ---   5. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (Adventure, Next Level Games)   Luigi's Mansion was perhaps one of the best launch titles for a console that I have had the honor playing (its only surpassed by one other that happens to be on the same console). Years later we are finally getting a sequel!   With more mansions to explore, Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon is a must have title for 3DS owners (I sadly am not included because I am poor). This and one other particular game are really making me want to buy a 3DS! Maybe they'll have a cool limited edition package for this. That would be cool!   ---   4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Life Simulator, Nintendo EAD)   The other game that makes me want to buy a 3DS! Animal Crossing is possibly one of my all time favorite Nintendo games ever. Animal Crossing has been a huge part of my life even. Though one sad issue is that I never felt it ever had a real sequel.   Wild World felt more like a DS demake. And City Folk felt like an expansion pack! Neither of these games ever felt like an Animal Crossing 2.   And now the series is about to turn a New Leaf! This long awaited 3DS title looks to be like an actual sequel to the GameCube classic which is LONG overdue!   The game has a slight change in style, graphics update, and you are now the Mayor of the town adding new gameplay features! Its still the same life sim we all know and love, but bigger!   Seriously, everything I see for this game just brings me back to the days I was a kid fully immersed in this strange animal world! And I look forward to going back soon!   ---   3. Rayman Legends (2D Platformer, Ubisoft Montpellier)   Lately, I've been hoping to see some cool new 2D Platformers. I really do miss that old genre. But lately all we've had were some pretty sup par Nintendo titles such as New Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country Returns, Metroid Other M, and Kirby Return to Dreamland.   These games were all good fun, but none of them really felt like super solid 2D Platformers like they used to be.   And then last year a little game came out called Rayman Origins, a game I completely ignored! I look back now and discover this GREAT platformer that puts New Mario to shame!   And now we get a WiiU sequel as Rayman Legends, which is one of the best looking titles for the console! If there is any symbol of what the 3rd Party can do with the WiiU they should look to this game! Its great! Now if only I could get myself some money to buy a blasted Wii U!   ---   2. Pikmin 3 (Real-Time Strategy/Adventure, Nintendo EAD)   Remember the other game that I said was a better launch game then Luigi's Mansion? Well best launch title game ever in my opinion goes to Pikmin! Pikmin is a beautiful mix of Real-Time Strategy and Adventure! Both Pikmin and its sequel are Nintendo classics!   Its taken them a long time, but a 3rd installment is on the way for the WiiU. And to be honest, this was the game that finalized my decision to want to pick up one! It actually reminds me of the GameCube launch which I see as a GREAT sign for the Wii U's future!   ---   1. The Last Guardian (3D Puzzle Platformer, Team ICO)   Okay... so this game is not "confirmed" for 2013, but its ABOUT DAMN TIME THEY RELEASE THIS ONE!   Seriously I'm getting worried! There have been rumored cancellations of this game that thankfully have been shot down. Apparently the game was at a playable state, but some mysterious technical issue was keeping it from being a finished product.   But really this game NEEDS to come out and this would be the year to do it! They have been developing the game exclusively for the PS3 for YEARS now and the PS3's lifespan is probably coming to an end with the next year or 2.   If you don't understand the hype do yourself a favor and pick up the ICO + Shadow of the Colossus HD edition for the PS3 for cheap! Play those then watch the trailers for The Last Guardian... you done? Good! You probably should be blown away by now!   Team ICO may be one of the best game development teams to ever exist! They've only made 2 games and they are already far ahead of the competition. Shadow of the Colossus is in a pretty close tie with Mother 3 and Yoshi's Island for my favorite game ever, and ICO is not too far behind!   The Last Guardian would be the PERFECT send off for the current generation of consoles. Why not go out with a HUGE bang. Last Guardian has the making to be one of the best games of this console generation.   If this game released this year, I'd go out and buy a brand new PS3, if not JUST to play this ONE game! Its a game about a young boy and his mysterious creature exploring a mysterious land. The game in its early 2009 footage look beautiful even for today's standards. The creature itself also looks like its actually alive in the trailers. Imagine actually interacting with this thing in a game!   Perhaps I'm overhyping this a bit, but this a game that just needs to be released, and released soon. And its my most hyped game for the year!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Game Design Musing: Torrent

So here's a game design idea that is actually based off of a dream I had not too long ago.   Basically in the dream I woke up to discover that there was a MASSIVE flood and everything for miles or perhaps the entire world was nearly submerged in water. However I survived the flood because it didn't reach my bed room. I had to adapt to this new world by making a raft and explore the New World Ocean, searching for supplies, looking for survivors, keeping a careful eye out for raiders, looking for answers on how this happened, and most importantly, survive.   I feel this dream had 4 main influences: Ponyo, Legend of Zelda Windwaker, reading the novel Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw, and the recent flooding of Hurricane Sandy. And I figured this actually could make out for a half decent game design idea.   Torrent   The game takes place starting in a young boy's bed room. He wakes up to discover that the whole world outside is submerged in water. He can't find his parents and he is alone in this New World Ocean.   The game would be a Third-Person Adventure game and perhaps play similar to the ocean sailing segments in Legend of Zelda Windwaker. You'll have to set out on this giant ocean on some make shift raft in search of food and other survivors.   The game could be more of a heavily stylized, high-ambient atmospheric adventure. Sorta like the a fore mentioned Windwaker, but perhaps done in a different style. The game would focus on a huge feeling of adventure as you sail around a flooded land, stopping at rooftops searching for various things, the world would be massive, taking place over multiple towns, vast country areas, and maybe a city.   The game could also have a deep and rich narrative that the player would have to discover for themselves. Perhaps by finding clues on the flood's origins or hearing various stories from friendly survivors they can find out what exactly happened to the world. I am undecided if the ultimate goal would be to restore the world back, but I have a feeling that would sort of spoil this adventurous world.   The game's challenge would be in its exploration. You'd have to maintain some kind of hunger gauge so you don't starve to death, so finding food is a key part of the game. In the waters could be tons of new aquatic wildlife you could try to survive on. Also the other survival element would be protecting yourself from both dangerous raiders, ocean storms, and violent wildlife. I'm not entirely sure if there would be any combat against these things. I feel it would be much better if the goal were to avoid these dangerous things. This could bring up some tense moments when you see a storm brewing, some suspicious characters on the waters, or perhaps some giant mysterious sea creatures.   Another charm of the game could be in the friendly survivor characters. There wouldn't be many, but you could find a few hiding. They will normally help you on your way while also sharing stories. Each one could have a personal story that develops over the course of the game. They also may give you quests to do that could both further these stories as well as give out rare helpful items. It would also be great if they had some neat personalities. I have ideas of some crazy world ending conspiracy homeless men (who just happened to be right), a housewife who seems to be a bit insane and denies that the world ever ended, a couple separated by miles of ocean who have no idea if each other survived, an adventurous young man in old metal scuba gear, a group of wannabe pirates, a cult worshiping a new fish god, a group of scientists trying to find a scientific explanation of the flood, a religious Noah like character who gathers animals two-by-two on a boat, and the list of ideas go on and on!   I'm not sure if there would be some ultimate ending of the game. I feel most of the game will be directed in helping develop these personal stories, going from one group of survivors to the next, and exploring the whole New World Ocean. Perhaps maybe after completing all the side quests, the characters will get together and form some new world order of some kind. I'm not sure if I ever want to outright explain how the flood happened either. I feel it would be better to just leave around clues and just leave it up to player interpretation. Maybe they can discuss it with friends, share theories and clues. I want these hints to be very vague and lean toward both very dark or very mystical explanations, depending on interpretation. That way players could have a number of theories spanning from mystical to dark and depressing.   I feel it could be a very fun adventure title that a number of people would enjoy. They'd love to share stories and theories of the game with each other. They will also enjoy their own personal stories as well as the unique survivor characters and their stories. But most importantly, it will help people feel a spirit of adventure that seems to be missing in most games today.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions?: Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS)

Now I can't quite call this an official review because well... I haven't personally played the title in question, which it sounds like a RIDICULOUS notion to review a game before you play it, but I still feel like writing my thoughts on the game anyway. I have played the other 3 Paper Mario titles and I have watched the beginnings of a Let's Play of the title in question. This alone I feel is enough for me to make an educated criticism of the game even without physically playing it myself. I labeled this under "First Impressions" because it is not a serious review and more my impressions on the game.   ---   Alright I suppose I should briefly outline my thoughts on the whole series;       Now the odd thing about Sticker Star is that it brings back turn-based combat, which means that their targeted demographic must be lowlifes like me who actually enjoy turn-based combat. I'd personally be happy about this turn back if it really was for the better.   Somewhere down the line in development, the developers decided that in a turn-based RPG, story isn't really important which is the dumbest thing I may have heard a developer say in years. And this shows because the storyline is comparable to the N64 original's bland storyline. In fact, it is virtually the same story just with stickers.   So they really shot themselves in the foot making another story bland Turn-Based RPG, but they also shot themselves in the mouth by forgetting to implement the original combat. The game's combat system is pretty much explained as item using. Every attack is its own individual sticker item with one use. That means if you run out of stickers you lose. So the game is mostly about item management aka that thing in RPGs that I hate doing. Its basically playing Earthbound with ONLY Jeff which would suck! They also removed leveling up... which confuses me. Bad guys only give you money for beating them, so you really have no reason to fight anything. And the only way to make yourself stronger is to get better stickers.   So what we have is an RPG with no character progression, an item only combat system, and no story. Its a game design NIGHTMARE!   Though oddly with all these short comings the game still oddly seems fun. Don't get me wrong its a horrible RPG, but it may not be that bad of a game. Its emotionally dead inside, but some people might find the strategy to maintaining a solid sticker library an enjoyable experience.   I might pick this one up when I get a 3DS if I can find it for cheap. The game still has the charm and funny dialogue that made us fall in love with the original. It might not be a huge grand experience like Thousand-Year Door or Super was, but it can be a tad bit enjoyable.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions: MLP:FIM SE3:EP6 "Sleepless in Ponyville"

Well... technically the title it misleading. Most of the episode takes place outside of Ponyville and there is in fact sleep. 0/10   Nah. just kidding!   Quite the contrary, this episode is more of a 10 really! Seriously, this episode is easily the best of the season so far and one of my new favorites. I think what really works for this episode is that A) its the first episode where Scootaloo is the main character it feels like a season 1 episode. What I mean is that it starts off a new relationship between characters, that of Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo, and it feels like something that was missing from the first season. Certainly it has been greatly implied that Rainbow Dash would be some kind of mentor to Scootaloo, but it was never really made official, hell they even outright say she's like her big sister, which was something that Scootaloo lacks when compared to the other CMC members.   Having a big sister as a mentor has been a huge theme conveyed over the CMC story arch. Applebloom has had Applejack and Sweetie Belle has had Rarity, for better or worse. Its really present during Sisterhooves Social which shows the relationship between Sweetie and Rarity as well the Apple sisters, but what I found odd about that episode was the fact that the third CMC filly was not involved...   ...But yeah... that's because she... doesn't have a sister...   But now in Season 3 we get Sleepless in Ponyville, an episode that feels long overdue for more reasons than one! But other than being a key character development episode, is it a good episode on its own?   Umm... hell yeah!   The basic plot of the episode is that Scootaloo wants to hang out with Rainbow Dash so she can impress her. She wants Rainbow Dash to take her under her wing. She wants Rainbow Dash to be not just her mentor, but a big sister.   I can't help but feel this could be an effect of seeing Sweetie and Applebloom with their big sisters and Scootaloo i left out. When I think of it that's actually really depressing even! We don't even know if Scootaloo has a family, but it is implied she has no big sister and Rainbow Dash is the next best thing.   As the episode goes on they have a big sisterhooves camping trip! Here the characters work near perfectly. Applejack and Applebloom are the two outdoorsy sisters that are in their element and get along. Sweetie Belle and Rarity are foils of one another where Rarity has her high maintenance antics and Sweetie works REALLY hard to keep her happy. And then we get a new character arch Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo.   They seem to work similar to the Sweetie and Rarity sister dynamic where Scootaloo tries her best to impress Rainbow Dash's high standards of "awesomeness". Though they aren't much foils of one another despite appearing so. Remember Rainbow Dash trying to hide her reading hobby? She shows a facade at times to keep her image, and Scoots tries to do the same. So they are more of false foils. Characters who appear different, but are totally the same.   Now of course I'm not spoiling much by saying that of course scary stories are told and they scare the CMC gang, but Scootaloo tries to act tough despite probably being the most frightened. And as the title implies she later has trouble sleeping.   She has nightmares which are REALLY well done! They convey her fears well. They might not be all that frightening, but do remember it is a kid's show, so it will have those classic kiddie frights that would make you reach for your blankie. And really these type of spooky scares would make more sense for Scootaloo seeing her age. There is a really neat way they have her discover the root of all her fears within her nightmares, that I wouldn't dare spoil for you, but long fans of the series will appreciate it.   But the episode does a REALLY good job conveying its message. And the end of the episode is possibly one of the best endings to an episode I have seen since... well... "Sonic Rainboom"! This is by far the best episode Season 3 has had so far and probably one of the best CMC episodes yet.   Hell, it might have even snuck its way into my top 10!   Speaking of Rainbow Dash, next week we get to follow more of her dreams to join the Wonderbolts! Maybe some elements of this episode would carry over. I'd really like to have Scootaloo appear more often in Rainbow Dash themed episodes.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Dolphin Days: My Holiday Nintendo GameCube Wish List

Oh the old DOL-001! How I missed you so! So today I decided to dig up my old Nintendo GameCube (which I've affectionately nicknamed Ol' Dolphin) to see if it still works. My Nintendo Wii has been on the fritz recently and it may be time to put it out to pasture, and no sense replacing it since the Wii U has launched... though I can think of ONE solid reason; backwards compatibility.   Though sadly, the start of the Wii U marks the official end of the Nintendo GameCube. I guess to cut costs the Wii U doesn't support GameCube software. So if I were to bury my Nintendo Wii today and replace it with a Wii U (which I'll totally do), then I wouldn't be able to play a GameCube game ever again!   BUT WAIT- after a bit of digging, I found that Ol' Dolphin survived the GameStop trade-in purge and was still hiding in my own room all along! And of course how could I ever get rid of this thing, it was pretty much the entire second half of my childhood! After a bit of dusting I found that she runs like brand new! I always new GameCubes were durable little suckers!   Though... there is the sad news; I don't own ANY GameCube games anymore! I guess when I decided to bend to the whims of the used game market empire known as GameStop (man I hate them) I must have forgot that I still owned a GameCube because my whole library, GONE! Yes my greed has made me forget and betray my Ol' Dolphin... probably so I could play some lame new shooter everyone was raving about.   So I've decided this holiday that I will make it my mission to restore my GameCube library back to its former glory! (or well... as close as possible) Though I'm not simply just going to rebuy all that I had, because I bought some stupid horrible games, but I'm going to collect all the ones that I played and enjoyed, including MANY that I never owned (because mooching on friends was easier).   Here's a list of 21 games that I just MUST have for the Nintendo GameCube!   ---   Luigi's Mansion     Of course there's the first one... yep the first major launch title for the Nintendo GameCube. And really... compared to other consoles, I haven't seen a launch title as big as this one. Yeah Wii Sports and Nintendo Land do a better job at showing what the console can do, but this one is more of an actual game rather than a collection of minigames. It was a neat adventure with gameplay all of its own. Instead of playing Mario, you played Luigi which was kinda nuts! It had a Ghostbusters like theme where you use a vacuum to suck up ghosts. It was a neat title that hasn't gotten a sequel yet, but now finally getting a sequel on the 3DS that I look forward to playing.   Currently, I'm unsure exactly where I can find this title aside from the Internet. My go-to store Elite Games doesn't have it in stock unfortunately.   ---   Pikmin     Seen as "the other big launch title" for the GameCube is Pikmin! A fun little game where you control little ant-like creatures to help you explore and survive on a strange yet familiar world! This game is usually seen as one of the biggest titles of the platform, and along with its stellar sequel, are modern Nintendo classics. I feel Pikmin may be one of Nintendo's best games ever. Seriously, its a fun adventure. What do I feel about the sequel? Well in some ways its superior to the original, but in some other ways its lesser. Specifically, I am speaking about the classic 30 day time limit of the original. I love that the time limit adds extra challenge to the game, but it also limits your time to explore the world. Pikmin 2 removed this time limit so you can explore more, collect more, and just more, more, MORE! Its one of those sequels where BIGGER IS BETTER, which actually pays off in this case. ...Also now that I think of it. Pikmin was a huge title released not too long after the GameCube's release, thus being a major selling point of the console. And the Wii U has Pikmin 3 announced to come out some time next year... the Wii U is reminding me a lot of the GameCube in these ways...   This is another title I'll have to hunt down. Elite doesn't have it in their shelves.   ---   Super Smash Bros. Melee     Well... this is THE BIG ONE! Its the console's highest selling game and not having it in my library would be a bit of an insult. Its also a ton of fun! Nintendo characters battling it out! Chances are you've either played this one or Brawl... so I don't really need to explain further. What do I think of its sequel? Well I think I'm part of a minority that thinks that Brawl is actually superior to this one and YES I REALLY DON'T MIND TRIPPING! With a few minor character changes, Brawl has everything this game had and more. It also had a rather sub par, but enjoyable story mode, but I think they should focus more on fighting and less on platforming.   Oddly enough, I might already have this one! I remember not too long ago that I had this game, but in a Mario Kart: Double Dash case (which means I lost Double Dash). I'll have to look for it, but I may just buy it again anyway. Gotta have that case!   ---   SSX Tricky     IT'S TICKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! This was one of the games that I played with my friends and I had a blast. I really don't care for sports titles, but this one had that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater kinda feel, where you just don't care. I bet if I played it nowadays I'd probably say it has shit controls... because that's what these games have, but hey its one of my fonder GameCube memories so it goes on the MUST HAVE list.   ---   Animal Crossing     Okay you may disagree with me on this... but this is THE BEST GAME ON THE GAMECUBE! Okay I know, I know it has little in the way of gameplay, I know it has no pace, I know it holds no challenge, and I KNOW its much less a game than some strange life sim... but I just don't CARE! This game gave me a world... a world I title Kuhnsvil (my dad worked in a lumber company named Kuhns) and I played as my character Zidane (pre-headbutt days, more of a reference to the FFIX protagonist). I... or rather, Zidane went through this strange town filled with Animal people and lived a nice life. He payed his mortgage and lived a life of luxury in his mansion. It was a game of just pure immersion and I loved every second of it. Maybe a bit too much... I remember I had an odd crush on one of the Mabel sisters, Whitney the wolf, and even Bob the cat because I admired his courage to go out in public in what I thought to be pink floral dresses. I also enjoyed the game with not only friends, but family too! I remember clearly my one friend invading my town when I was asleep and I woke to discover he chopped down ALL OF MY TREES and claimed he was possessed by George Washington's ghost. And then I remember getting him back when one of his treasure wolf residents, Whitney, moved to my town and he got so pissed! Also my sisters enjoy this game as well, which its near impossible to get them to play anything. Hell even MY MOTHER got into this game! I wasted HOURS upon HOURS in Kuhnsvil and really what more could you ask for in a game... to waste your time because you had nothing but time to waste as a kid. What did I think of the sequels? Ha ha! What sequels? All we got after Animal Crossing were a bunch of ports. Hell, Animal Crossing itself is basically a port of the Japanese N64 game Animal Forest. Though I do like the look of Animal Crossing New Leaf for the 3DS. It actually does look like a full sequel to the GameCube classic, with updated graphics and tons of new features. Plus you're the freakin' Mayor now!   I can actually find this one at Elite for $6, so its gonna be the first game I grab when I get my controllers!   ---   Sonic Adventure 2 Battle     Actually... I'm kinda undecided about this one because I might just get it for Dreamcast instead, but I probably should own it for GameCube anyway since its probably my most played GameCube title next to Animal Crossing. Mostly for its Chao Garden! I don't know exactly why, but Chao Garden was just somewhere I could escape and take care of these adorable Chao creatures. And... WHY DON'T THEY HAVE THEM IN FUTURE INSTALLMENTS! Seriously, the game itself is pretty shitty. Even I as a kid knew it was rather meh, but still the Chao mode was worth the pain! Also I really want to own Sonic '06 for the Xbox 360... mostly because I want the game that may just be the "Modern Superman 64".   I can pick this one up at Elite for a steep $15. They have like 5 copies which is a rather humorous symbol I think.   "Gotta Go Fast!"   ---   Gauntlet: Dark Legacy     So... this game might be the best multiplayer experience on the GameCube. I have VERY fond memories going through this with friends. The basic premise of the game? Shoot your weapons at enemies! Which doesn't sound all that great, but it is. I think where this game works is its level design. You go through a bunch of levels fighting bad guys, finding secrets, leveling up, unlocking secret characters, fighting giant bosses. Its a FREAKIN blast!   I can find this one at Elite for $10! Hopefully, I'll have four controllers and four friends first.   ---   Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem     Yep... the survivor horror that got away... I've never played this game, but boy do I want it! I like survivor horror games, but really the PS2 has a much better selection BUT it is missing Eternal Darkness and boy is it really missing out! Its a Silicon Knights Resident Evil clone... which on paper sounds like THE WORST POSSIBLE THING! But surprisingly this is pretty much the only good game Silicon Knights ever made and its actually better than Resident Evil. I think where Resident Evil gets lost is that it tries to go way too big. I like the first one and its creepy "What a mansion!", but by RE2 you can already see that its trying way too hard to be huge and complicated. Eternal Darkness pretty much stays pretty consistent with its creepy old gods haunting the old mansion motif. The stories of the other playable characters are interesting, it has a well designed spell system, and it doesn't just use cheap jump scares, but it messes with your mind!   I may have to do a bit of searching for this one. It seems to be one of those "underrated uncommon classics".   ---   Super Mario Sunshine     Well what can I say... this one is a classic. It THE GameCube Mario title. Its what Super Mario World was to the SNES. Its what Super Mario 64 was to the Nintendo 64. You go around doing Mario platforming while cleaning up the Isle of Delphino (a possible reference to Project Dolphin). Its just a classic and a must have for your GameCube library.   I can find it at Elite for $10 which will also be an obvious title to own.   ---   Timesplitters 2     Probably my favorite FPS of all time! Not even joking! I love this shootfest! I love the HUGE selection of selectable characters that range from cool to just plain weird. I love the different exotic locations and time zones. I loved the varied era'd weapons you could use! I loved the challenges. The different game modes! This is my all time favorite FPS game! I like it better than Halo, better than Call of Duty, better than Unreal Tournament, better than Quake, better than DOOM. Its just my favorite... period! I'm sad to see this game disappear though. It had a sequel on the PS2 which I really don't remember much of. And its been long rumored to have a Timesplitters 4 in the making, but its will likely never happen. They rumored about making an HD rerelease via Xbox LIVE and PSN, but still no luck.   I'll hunt this one down though, trust me!   ---   Metroid Prime     Another HUGE must own title! Along with its sequel, Metroid Prime is probably one of the most beloved GameCube games. It took the fast paced puzzle action from the original Metroid and Super Metroid games and flipped it into an FPS! I'll admit, I might be a bit more partial to the 2D version of the Metroid games, but Metroid Prime is still incredible!   I can acquire this beauty for $7 at Elite Games.   ---   The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker     Let it be known... I'm not a huge fan of the 3D Zelda titles. Ocarina of Time may just be the most overrated game in existence, but I will admit one thing. Despite me being more of a fan of top down "Classic Zelda", Windwaker is my pick for best Zelda of all time! Honestly, this game shows great quality that it tears past my 2D preference and makes it to the top! Maybe its not as focused as other Zelda titles, but that's the point. I can't get lost in a game that's too focused and to the point. I can get lost in a game where there's a grand adventure! Maybe you think the exploration in the game makes too long and drawn out, but Windwaker does adventure right, its not about the location, its about getting there!   And it will be an adventure to find this old gem!   ---   Soul Calibur II     IT HAS FREAKIN LINK!   ...FREAKIN' LINK!   ---   Viewtiful Joe     This is another one of those cult classics that got away type of deal. I never played it and I never heard of it until it was too late. I'll love to hunt this one down and play it!   Though yes, it may take some hunting.   ---   Kirby Air Ride     I'll admit... this game is pretty stupid and was NOT worth a full $50 back in the day, but alas sometimes Nintendo would release a small fun game that may just be that, small but fun. But now that years have passed and I can probably pick it up for pocket change it seems like a much better deal! Its just a fun game where you look for and drive around in little flying machines, collect powerups, and do challenges. There's not much to it, but its a blast if you play it with your friends!   It'll certainly be a ride looking for this one. Hopefully, it will be at a low price worth the game content.   ---   F-Zero GX     I'll admit... I don't know much about this game. I borrowed it from a friend once and hardly played it. I remember I found it too hard because the cars move too fast, but hey suck it up buttercup! This is F-Zero! High speed action racing with everyone's favorite hero Captain Falcon! The guy with, hands down, the most EPIC PUNCH IN EXISTENCE! Though ironically it doesn't really appear during gameplay, but fuck it! HIGH SPEED FUTURE CARS!   I can get this one for like $8 at Elite so I'll be fast to pick this one up.   ---   Tales of Symphonia     Well here we go... "the best RPG on the GameCube" and "one of the best RPGs of all time" Well... I'll say no to that first bit, but this is a REALLY good RPG! And I never owned it and never beat it! Yeah... its one of those borrowed it stories.   Still, I need to grab this and its Wii sequel sometime soon. But I do have to find them first.   ---   Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door     Remember when I said Tales wasn't the best RPG on the console... well it takes a big 2nd place to this gem! Yay Unpopular Opinions! No, but seriously... this game is just perfect. Which is a surprise because I didn't really care for the first Paper Mario. I thought it had nice dialogue, good characters, and a cute personality. It also had a neat new spin on turn-based RPGs that I thought was REALLY good! But Paper Mario lacked a good story. It had a bland stop Bowser story, just upscaled to JRPG level. Then comes Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and BAM! A HUGE original story with AMAZING CHARACTERS, HILARIOUS and WITTY DIALOGUE, a CHARMING PERSONALITY, BEAUTIFUL WORLDS, and some of the BEST RPG COMBAT I COULD EVER ASK FOR! And maybe that's why I don't like the newer Paper Marios better. SUPER Paper Mario had a great story, good dialogue, but most of the characters were horrid looking and they took out the nifty turn-based combat for sup par Mario platforming. And from what I heard during Sticker Star the developers said that the game doesn't need story, which is the WORST thing I've ever heard for this series. I'm just avoiding Sticker Star on principle now (but mostly because I don't have a 3DS).   This was actually, specifically the title I was looking for today and sadly I did not find it. But this one is at the VERY top of my priority list!   ---   Resident Evil 4     Well here you go. What's highly regarded as the BEST GAMECUBE GAME, which I'd rather replace with "One of the Best" because there are clearly better ones and all caps makes you look like a psycho. Its also joked around as "The Only Good Resident Evil" which I sorta disagree with. Resident Evil 1 was interesting and RE2 was alright at best, but then the series just kept shitting on itself, and then POP Resident Evil 4 somehow becomes a masterpiece. Which is a real shame Resident Evil 5 had to ruin everything by trying WAY too hard to pander to the online co-op players. RE6 is even WORSE to where it hardly even resembles ANYTHING close to the original.   But needless to say, I'll be headed after this one soon enough.   ---   Killer7     Well ladies and gents, the Suda51 cult-classic, Killer7. Words really can't accurately describe this game. Its basically like a Rail-Shooter meets an acid trip. The game is just... weird! SUPER WEIRD! SUDA WEIRD!   Seriously... I just gotta have this one...   ---   Chibi Robo     Here's another cult-classic that I missed. This one is usually thrown in that category of weird cute Japanese game that most people miss out on because its just VERY Japanese. You basically play as a small robot who lives in a person's home. You go around doing various activities. I just want more adorable fun games in my life.   And I'm in luck! Chibi Robo is available for $22 at Elite Games!   ---   So yeah there's 21 games that I MUST OWN for the Nintendo GameCube. I doubt I could get all of them this holiday season, but I'm sure I could get most of them for not all that much money. And of course there's more, but this was just a basic outline of what I need. Any sequels or games related to those above, I'd probably also pick up. There are also some that I am really looking for that I just didn't mention because 21 games is a big enough list already!   So what do you think about the game selection above? Do you think there are other must have titles that I missed? Do you feel some of the titles mentioned above aren't that great? Leave a comment and let me know.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions: MLP:FiM SE3:EP5 "Magic Duel"

Alright so I'm pretty late with this one. I slept for like 14 hours all day yesterday and forgot that the episode was even yesterday, so it took me a while to get around to watching it.   Now on to the episode...   I rather liked it. I like the idea of returning villains since MLPFiM has a pretty neat cast of villains, and Trixie is one of the show's first smaller antagonists and one of the most popular.   I guess since the episode is like a sequel I'd have to share what I thought on the first one. I rather liked it. Since I originally watched the whole series in order like a good little curious young adult male Pony watcher, the Trixie episode was one of the earlier episodes that I ever saw, and at the time it came up it was my favorite... and then it was quickly replaced by a few others, but it may still range somewhere in my top 10 favorite episodes (which maybe I'll make a nice list for you guys once Season 3's over).   I do like Trixie as a "villain". She wasn't necessarily evil, but just a self-centered, egotistical showoff, and I really like that about her. She plays a rival foil to Twilight Sparkle, kinda like Blue/Green/Gary of Pokemon Generation 1... but less lame.   She does have some magical talent and I'm sure that wherever she came from, maybe she was quite renown for her magic prowess, but obviously this all went to her head as she set off to show off to the world her magical abilities, even if she has to lie to prove herself!   Also the episode had a neat astronomy reference in the Ursa Minor and Ursa Major and they are actually among my favorite creature designs of the show!   ...now what did I think about "Magic Duel"?   Well... I have mixed opinions...   So far it may be my favorite episode of Season 3 since it has a villain that I like and further goes into her character. It also has TONS of magic which is something that I really love from the series.   ...but the plot could have been handled a bit better. I do like the beginning where Trixie is shown quite desperate to get payback and she resorts to some pretty extreme measures! When she comes back she shows some huge magical ability to even a scary extent! Of course this couldn't have just come from hard work and determination, but instead, without spoiling much, she cheats to amplify her power. The way that she does so shows her desperation for power... but it does come off as a tad bit generic... but in the end it really doesn't effect the episode too much.   My main issue with the plot is after the duel. Until the final showdown at the end, the plot really doesn't do much. Twilight has to find a way to defeat Trixie, but the way she goes about finding it is kinda boring in my opinion. I thought maybe she'd find some ancient temple to learn about what gave Trixie these powers, or maybe search out some wise sages, but instead she goes to a character whom really doesn't make much sense since, once again not spoil too much, she isn't a unicorn. The rest of the Mane Six also have to escape to help Twilight, which is done also in a boring way in my opinion. The whole 2nd Act is just kinda lame and is a real downer on the episode.   Of course there has to be a final showdown and the way this was pulled out was pretty dang clever! I was pretty confused about what was going on, but once they reveal how they pulled it off I was amazed. It actually has a bit of a taste of irony in it too, seeing this whole theme of fraudulism in the Trixie episodes. I think people will really get a kick out of the ending. I also like Trixie's character at the end. The episode, despite having a less than stellar middle section, has a great payoff at the end.   In conclusion, I'd say this was a pretty good episode. It is not a perfect episode by any means, and I think I prefer the first Trixie episode better. Still though I'm sure fans of the series won't be disappointed of Trixie's return. I see this as probably one of the better Season 3 episodes and one many fans will learn to love.   ...now next week I get a check off of my wish list! Scootaloo gets and episode!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Game Design Musing: Junkyard Punk

So with this whole Amnesia Fortnight thing going on at Double Fine, I've felt pretty inspired to muse over game design ideas myself. The developers at Double Fine came up with quite a few neat game design pitches, some were of course better than others. But watching this whole experience has been really inspiring! It brings me back to the days that I looked at games less cynically and I often liked to imagine how I'd make my own!   I guess in the spirit of Amnesia Fortnight I've came up with my own mock game design pitch. I bring you...   Junkyard Punk   In the far future there is a massive junkyard, a graveyard for millions and millions of the obsolete and broken machines, mechs, spaceships, and robots. Its an ocean of scrap and rust, a hopeless wasteland for our old mechanical friends to fade away. ...but one lone bot won't go down, not without a fight!   Junkyard Punk is an exploration, construction, 2D Platformer starring a lone robot. The mission? Escape the Junkyard! However escaping the junkyard is no easy feat. The walls of the scrapheap are far out of reach and the fabled Junk Guardian watches over the land.   The game is like if you mixed the 2D worlds and exploration of Terraria, the challenge and repeat playthrough of Binding of Isaac, the escape and time pressure of Pikmin, and maybe a bit of Wall-e inspiration for good measure.   Your goal is to survive long enough to build a spaceship capable of flying you out of the Junkyard and defeat the Junk Guardian which can be one of many endgame bosses of varying difficulty.   A few game mechanics include a battery life system that you must find creative ways to keep at a good level, a gradual increasing difficulty as time goes on, an upgrade system where you can build more body armor, weapons, and gagets like jetpacks and grappling hooks for movement, also a weight system that comes into play as you keep adding to your character the more weight you gain, and a complex construction system to build base defenses, repair stations, energy generators, and of course the spaceship.   The spaceship construction is also a complex system in itself. You must balance weight, firepower, armor, size, and thrust so you can fly your way out with as much ease as possible.   The game is also made for replayablilty. After each playthrough you unlock more items to spawn in the junkyard as well as new enemies and bosses. Also multiple epilogue endings depending on how many playthoughs you have won or certain tasks you completed. Try to beat your best time and escape as quick as possible or stick around to find more secrets in the junkyard.   Its a game meant to invoke both challenge and exploration as well as constructive creativity.   ---   Anyway that's the basic synopsis of a game idea I came up with and I'm actually kind of proud of it. That does sound like a pretty solid game that I'd enjoy. I do enjoy the 2D style exploration and platforming of Terraria, but I find the game kinda aimless. So I thought of the spaceship escape goal similar to that of Pikmin as well as the game getting harder as time goes on. I'm also fond of shorter but more difficult games so replayability would be a huge factor.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Amnesia Fortnight 2012 Pitch Reviews

Amnesia Fortnight 2012 Review   So one of the coolest events in video game development is happening RIGHT NOW! And its called Double Fine's Amnesia Fortnight!   Essentially what Amnesia Fortnight is is when the Double Fine (known for Monkey Island, Brutal Legend, and Psychonauts, headed by the legendary Tim Schafer) decides to take a break and drop whatever they are doing, go into a development AMNESIA one may say, and start working on new prototypes for a full two weeks, or a FORTNIGHT some may call it. And this year is the 5th annual Amnesia Fortnight, but the 1st to go totally public!   Some neat games have come out of this unique process. Examples are Costume Quest, Stacker, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster (formerly known as Happy Song), the upcoming free iOS game Middle Manager of Justice, and a newly released prototype from last year BRAZEN.   If you are more interested in this process and want to get your hands on some of these two week prototypes including the 5 selected for this year being made RIGHT NOW! Check out the Humble Bundle fundraiser! http://www.humblebundle.com/double-fine (Also includes Live Streams of the development process)   ---   Before I can get into this year's pitches, winners, and misses I feel it makes sense to show some of the other products of this awesome development process!   BRAZEN (Prototype) Pitched by Brian Muir, Project Lead on IRON BRIGADE   BRAZEN Prototype Trailer             Middle Manager of Justice (Coming Soon to iOS Devices) Pitched by Kee Chi, Programmer   Middle Manager of Justice Trailer       Middle Manager of Justice Amnesia Fortnight 2011 Initial Pitch             ---   The Amnesia Fortnight Initial Pitches   Here's is a video containing all 23 of this year's pitches. The video will just play 30 second clips for each game telling you about it and perhaps showing some concept art or work already put into it. I would just link each video with each entry, but linking 23+ YouTube videos at once just has BAD IDEA written all over it!         ---   The Amnesia Fortnight 2012 Winners   Yeah unfortunately I'm a little late to the party. It would probably have been more helpful if I could've written this review while the voting was still up. You viewers could have made a decision on which you liked and cast your vote to help with the process... yeah blame that one all on me! I was too slow! But anyway I suppose I might as well go through the winner's circle first. That way those who only care about the pitches that went through can get their fill first.   5th Place   Black Lake Pitched by Levi Ryken, Senior Artist       4th Place   Autonomous Pitched by Lee Petty, Art Director for Brutal Legend, Project Lead for Stacker and currently Double Fine Adventure       3rd Place   The White Birch Pitched by Andy Wood, Art Director: The Cave (due out January 2013)       2nd Place   Spacebase DF9 Pitched by JP LeBreton, Lead Designer: The Cave       1st Place   Hack N' Slash Pitched by Brandon Dillion, Senior Programmer and "talks like a frog when he talks"       ---   The Runner-Ups   So those 5 above are the chosen concepts to be protyped. For the most part I'm generally pleased with the results... really Double Fine will do... well doubly fine with really any of these concepts. But of course some concepts just didn't make the cut, some of them for good reason, some of them may seem to be missed opportunities, or maybe they'll just be kept as a secret weapon by Tim Schafer... I really would believe the latter... he's kinda a weird dude like that.   Anyway without further ado, I shall review ALL the other concepts that didn't make it this year, and like those above, I'll give my opinion of what the game could have been, or what it may still be destined to be.   The Knockover Pitched by Jeremy Natividad, Environmental Artist       Milgrim Pitched by Joe Kowalski, User Interface Desinger       Cloud Prix Pitched by John Swisshelm, Game Designer       Zumbi Chained Pitched by Kjeld Pedersen, Senior Artist       Bragging and Fighting Pitched by Matthew Franklin, Senior Gameplay Programmer       Redbot's Reboot Pitched by Oliver Franzke, Senior Programmer       Double Fine High Pitched by Panya Inversin, Visual Effects Artist       Flopulous Pitched by Drew Skillman       Bad Golf Pitched by Patrick Hackett, Senior Gameplay Programmer       Battle Bros. Pitched by Geoff Soulis, Lead Artist: IRON BRIGADE       Turk Pitched by Ben Peck, Gameplay Programmer       Kaiju Piledriver Pitched by Brad Muir, Project Lead: IRON BRIGADE       Shine Run Pitched by Brent Andrew Shinn, IT Manager       Echelon Pitched by Brain Min, Studio Audio Director       Primordial Slime Pitched by David Gardner, Senior Animator and "that guy who accosted Tim about adventure games being dead"       Critterverse Pitched by Jeremy Mitchell, Technically Aritist       Silent But Deadly Pitched by Duncan Boehle, Programmer       ...but you guys knew I saved the best for last!   The Flock Perfect Genius Video Game Concept Forged In The Fires Of Mt. Doom by Greg Rice, Producer: Double Fine Adventure, Absolute Sage, and 99.9% Duck       ---   Anyway that is ALL 23 concepts brought up in this year's Amnesia Fortnight and then some. Really I feel the best games won, since there's really only 5 (minus one game having to do with mallards) that deserved that top spot. I'll be really glad to see what the teams of Double Fine do with their prototypes in the next 2 weeks. Perhaps they have another masterpiece on their hands or perhaps just a few good ideas for the alternative market. Only time will tell.   I'll make sure to get some money around so I can purchase the available Prototypes and get this year's batch when it all ends and tell you what I think of them. It'll be tons of hard work for these talented dev teams within these next 2 weeks, but I think they can really make something with these concepts.   Hell they have me pretty inspired to come up with my own interesting game idea... but that's a story for another day.   So what do you think about the concepts that were made during Double Fine's Amnesia Fortnight? Which concepts are your favorite? I think mine is that one having to do with Duck Dynasty... Which of the finalist are you cheering for? Me personally, after getting cheated out of my Quacksterpiece I've gotta side with that Hacking game.... It really could be something genius if it is done correctly, but we'll see!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

LA Game Space

So a while back I was told about a fresh new interesting Kickstarter called the LA Game Space. I wasn't quite sure exactly what it was, so I had to take a look into it. And what I saw looks FANTASTIC!   http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lagamespace/la-game-space-a-place-for-re-imagining-video-games   Essentially the Kickstarter for LA Game Space is to help fund a huge video gaming project. Its a place, in LA of course, where developers of various Indie Games can come together and talk about game development and work on projects. Not only that, but regular non-developing folk can also see what's going on in the space like if it was a huge Indie Game Development Museum! Best part is that you don't even have to be in LA since they are going to bring as much as possible to everybody on the space's website!   This project is AWESOME for those who really like Indie Game development! Its like a big get together for all sorts of amazing developers... some you probably don't even know of yet!   Of course there are rewards for supporting the Kickstarter including getting a HUGE pack of games being developed to be showcased at the site! 30+ games for $15! What games exactly? Well little is known about these titles yet aside from who is working on it. The big names include Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) + Adam Saltsman (Canabalt) are working on a game, Cactus (Hotline Miami), and even Pen Ward (maker of the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time!) is working with Bennett Foddy (that guy who made QWOP) on a game!   I'm not sure how much viewers here care, but I really care for the Indie Market. The Indie Market is always filled with bright and fresh new ideas, usually for a low cost. I'm interested to see a hub set up where a bunch of these guys can get together and just make games.   I'm not saying you have to help fund the Kickstarter (though I'm worried it might not make its goal), but I just want to see what people think of this project. What do you think of this central hub for Indie Game Development?

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Studio Ghibli Marathon: Part 1, "Romantic Depression"

So like many people I am a HUGE fan of a Japanese animation studio named Studio Ghibli! Studio Ghibli is best known for their movies such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away   Though for the longest time I haven't seen a large chunk of the Studio Ghibli library, so I'm correcting that today by watching a bunch of Ghibli animations that I haven't watched!   I figured since I'm doing this I might as well take a break to write a few mini-reviews on the movies, spoiler free of course!   ---   "Romantic Depression"   Up Upon Poppy Hill So I thought I'd start on the one that most people haven't seen... as in the newest one. Up Upon Poppy Hill is set to have an English dub and international release next Spring, but I thought I'd get an early start at it through the original Japanese version. To describe the movie, its a very simple movie. Unlike some of the other Ghibli films, this one doesn't have any monsters or spirits, but just people. Its a simple slice of life movie. And actually I rather like this. The movie was pretty cute actually. It stars a young woman who works hard for her family and then she meets a peculiar young man who is the obvious love interest. On top of that, at their school there is an old club house that is threatened with demolition and the students try to save it. Its a really basic plot really... until the romance arc takes a few turns... Well the romance arc is pretty much half the movie and a plot of its own and although at first its adorable... it has a VERY odd twist to it... a very Japanese twist to it... Still even with a questionable twist, the movie still feels like a heart warming slice of life movie. Its nothing too flashy, but it still manages to entertain me.   Grave of Fireflies So I decided to go from a nice heart warming romantic slice of life movie to... well... pretty much the polar opposite! Grave of Fireflies is also a movie that doesn't have any supernatural qualities to it... actually its a historical piece. Its also probably the most depressing movie I've seen in my life! It takes place in Japan during World War II... and aside from maybe the infamous concentration camps, Japan may have been one of the worst places to be during World War II. Mostly because the constant bombings and people starving to death. It is by all means NOT a pleasant movie to watch. That's not to say its bad, but to put it bluntly, you'll feel like shit afterwards. The basic plot is a young boy and his little sister try to survive World War II.. and that's basically it. The movie is kinda nice enough to spoil the ending a bit at the very first moment of the film. From the very first piece of dialogue you know that there is no happy ending and you just have to sit and watch things get worse! Not for the faint of heart.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions: MLP:FIM SE3:EP4 "One Bad Apple"

One Bad Apple? More like One Bad Episode!   Okay, okay, I kid! I guess Pinkie Pie got me in the mood to make some bad puns!   But I guess I'm not all that impressed with the new episode. Its not really bad, but rather its generic. Normally I'm okay with MLP:FiM picking up these really generic plot structures because they usually have a pretty original spin on it, but it really doesn't pay off this time in my opinion.   It has the usual CMC episode adorableness, so if you are looking for just that I suppose you get what you wish for, but along with most CMC episodes they can be either amazing or just boring.   I guess this episode did depend a lot on how they handled this new character, Bab Seed. Without spoiling much she just really comes off as a generic bully. Which is a real shame because MLP;FiM has done bullies before, and they've actually done them well to the point where they even scare me a bit (see Ponyville Confidential), but Bab Seed really doesn't bring anything all to amazing to really stand out from the other bullies.   Call me picky, but I just wasn't impressed with this episode. Generic plot, generic antagonist, hell it even ends off pretty generically. Even the musical number in it seems pretty dang generic! I really don't like to bash MLP:FiM episodes, but this one is just one I don't like much at all.   Next week's episode looks to be a big one though! So I guess there's something to look forward to!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions: MLP:FIM SE3:EP3 "Too Many Pinkie Pies"

Well... I suppose its safe to say we all knew this was going to be quite an episode. I mean just in its description it sounds like a Brony's dream come true! "Moar Pink Pone!" Plus a clone plot is just PERFECT for Pinkie Pie!   ...And I'm kinda surprised it didn't go as well as I thought it would. Don't get me wrong, I liked the episode, I just think it could've been done SO much better!   One major flaw is that the episode is REALLY annoying! If you are like me who hates constant repetition, this episode might drive you nuts! I know that repeated lines are pretty standard in a mass cloning plotline, but they took it to an obnoxious extreme!   I didn't like how they handled the clones' personality. They all look identical to Pinkie Pie, but they all don't have the same mind as Pinkie Pie. Without spoiling too much, the clones act more like mindless drones than actual people... err... Ponies, like the real Pinkie Pie! I remember a while back when I said I didn't much care for Pinkie Pie episodes anymore because after Season 1 Pinkie Pie's character became dumber and more annoying. And that's pretty much what the clones are, dumb and annoying. But at least the real Pinkie Pie actually acts like she has character, and seems more like Season 1 Pinkie Pie like in Party of One. So on the plus side, Real Pinkie has actually improved. I thought the way she made the clones was pretty cool, so there's another plus.   The episode is a TON of fun, more fun than you can handle really. It has all of the Physics and Logic breaking fun that Pinkie Pie brings, but "the fun has been DOUBLED"... or err... tripled? Quadrupled? I don't know! Things get pretty darn crazy as you would expect from Pinkie Pie, and Pinkie Pie, and Pinkie Pie, and Pinkie Pie, and also Pinkie Pie, not to forget Pinkie Pie, and should I mention Pinkie Pie, and of course Pinkie Pie...   Oh? Where was I?   So if you like Pinkie, here's pretty much your dream episode! If you don't like Pinkie all that much, then duck for cover because here's your worst nightmare. If you are like me and on the fence about Pinkie, well you might be pleasantly surprised and enjoy the original Pinkie Pie... but you'll hate the clones!   As far as cloning plots go, this is a pretty good one! I think its better handled than Pinkie's Murder MMMystery plot done last season (which I was disappointed with, Adventure Time really out did them when it came to a Murder Mystery train plot). Actually, this episode too also has stiff competition recently with Gravity Falls's "Double Dipper" episode. Again, in comparison I feel MLP:FIM was outdone again by the competition, but this one is a much closer race than the Murder Mystery episodes.   So in closing, its a mixed bag really. I feel its equal parts really fun, and equal parts REALLY annoying. It fails to live up to the other great Pinkie Pie episodes like "Party of One" but outshines the lesser Pinkie Pie episodes like "Baby Cakes" and "MMMystery on the Friendship Express". Overall, its a good episode that's worth a watch and really has my hopes up for future craziness this season!   ...So what are you waiting for, go watch it!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

First Impressions: MLPFIM Season 3 Premiere [Spoiler Free]

First Impressions, is a new segment on my Critique blog where I just give overall, spoiler-free, impressions on something that I just saw that is rather new. The difference between this and a regular review is that I hardly give myself time to really critically think about certain elements of a show or movie or whatever and its just a quick thing about how I felt about it. I'll normally follow it up with a full review some time later on.   ---   Now what did I think about Season 3's premiere? Well... it was better than my low expectations thought it was going to be. It felt like a pretty standard 2 part premiere. How would I rate this one versus the other premieres? I think this one was my favorite premiere out of all 3 of them. It comes REALLY close to the Discord one, but I feel this one is overall just better than the Discord episode, especially since this one has a few musical numbers. I wouldn't quite compare this one with the Season 2 finale though. Its not nearly as big as that one and the only thing I feel it has better than Season 2's Finale is the episode pacing.   Of course I guess I need to share what I thought about the villain since MLPFIM's premieres always have a main villain. I really liked his design, but he had like no character to him. He felt more like a forboding force than an actual living being. Where does he compare to the other villains? Well, he's actually probably my least favorite since he has no character. Still I rather like his design, and really that's all that's needed in this particular episode.   And the episode itself, I really like it. It has good pacing, high suspense, a neat new setting, returning characters, the mane six are well characterized and you see them do what they do best. Everything is just well done, and it might be as I said the best premiere to date. So go watch it!   I give this premiere a thumbs up!

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

2012: A Good Movie Year

I remember awhile back when my family decided to go to the movies, they all decided to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Now I really don't like that series for multiple reasons so I had to choose another movie to see while they watch their movie. To my dismay there was slim pickings at that time where all the movies were pretty boring looking. I asked for a ticket to see Paranormal Activity 3, not because I really care for the movie but its a flick my friends saw and enjoyed so I might as well stop feeling left out of the conversation. Things suddenly got worse as they discovered that the projector was broken and had to be fixed, so naturally they told me to see a different movie. I ended up settling for Tower Heist which you may or may not remember because it was a pretty unremarkable Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy comedy. The only reason why I enjoyed it at all was because I had the whole theater to myself and it was nice to see Eddie Murphy return to movies despite his returning movies to be pretty lame.   ---   NOW, this year my family wants to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 which is thankfully the last of these bad movies, but still an experience I'd rather avoid after proving myself absolutely right that I was correct on skipping out of Part 1. This time though I'm having the exact opposite problem, I can't decide what movie I want to watch!   Hell this entire year has been filled with good movies and films (there's a difference in my opinion).   February 17th; marked the release of the Studio Ghibli animated film The Secret World of Arriety, unfortunately I have not seen it, but its Studio Ghibli so as long as its better than Ponyo I'll be pleased. Though I've heard its a bit short and feels a bit rushed, so its not like a new Ghibli classic, but even Ghibli's lesser films tend to amaze me.   March 2nd; released The Lorax which strangely I also haven't seen. Though it exploded on the Internet into what seems like a cult classic and still has a pretty dedicated fandom. It seems well animated at least, but I usually have mixed opinions when it comes to the Seuss movies, so I'm not sure if I will like it.   March 23rd; was the cinema explosion known as The Hunger Games now judging it as an interesting action flick I'd say its pretty good. I've heard as a book-to-film adaptation it's less than stellar. But judging it as a serious piece of art film is rather difficult. There's nothing I find insulting with the acting and everyone does a pretty good performance. The film really sucks you into this nightmare dystopian society and makes you feel a part of this deadly game. It really seems to take teenage audiences seriously and thinks that teenagers can handle material this dark maturely. But it all falls apart with a few of the cinematic decisions, namely the shaky cam. The action scenes are near unwatchable. I understand they wanted to censor a lot of the violence, but I feel they could do it in a much better way. The big final battle, its too dark to see what's going on and the camera goes haywire, so it makes for a confusing climax. So if its a good film that's really up to your judgement... I'm gonna say no, but really close!   April 14th; The Cabin in the Woods, okay... who has seen this movie? Because I haven't, and I really felt like I didn't want to. I think everyone went on assuming it would be a boring horror flick that maybe we'll buy on DVD around Halloween if we have nothing better to watch. Well apparently the Katniss-lead House at the End of the Street wasn't interesting enough for audiences this Halloween season so they actually went back and watched this Cabin movie... and apparently people are saying it went HIGHLY underrated! People are calling it a new modern horror classic, which I find confusing... if its so good how did it go unnoticed for so long? I'll check it out soon enough, but anyone want to kinda confirm these claims?   May 4; Do I even have to explain it? The Avengers! I probably don't have to explain this movie to you, but I feel its one of the most entertaining action movies I've seen in a long time, especially in the superhero genre. Now do I think its an honest to goodness film like its rival The Dark Knight? Well, no... I'll say it gets close, but from the amount of humor this movie drives itself on its near impossible to try and take seriously. Its probably the closest I've seen Marvel to impressing me on a serious film merit, but its mostly just a fun kickass movie.   June 22nd; Pixar's Brave sees its release and not having seen it yet, I'm not quite sure what to think of it... I'd say if its any good, it has the WRONG advertising staff making ads for it. Whenever I see an ad for this movie/film, I swear it looks like Dreamworks took over because all they show are the lame, quirky joke parts that aren't funny or entertaining at all. Pixar is more about great touching moments on top of stunning animation, but if its like I see what's advertised then I think Pixar has picked up some bad habits from making Cars 2 and is really going downhill... especially since Planes is and upcoming movie... blehhhh!   June 29th; Magic Mike... ummm... I want to see... because... reasons.... I MEAN... Ted... yes Ted is a movie that came out on June 29th that I want to see and have not seen because I am slow at seeing movies... yes I totally meant Ted Ted seems to have a fun concept and some of the jokes seem funny. Hopefully it doesn't feel too much like Family Guy though... because that's a show that really needs to stop... its not very funny these days...   July 3rd: The Amazing Spider-man finally gives people what they want, a retry! I know a TON of people think Spider-man 3 is what killed the Spider-man franchise, but I want to say that it was just the whole trilogy. The whole trilogy just seemed really dumb and silly and it had a natural progression of silliness The first flick had a high degree of silliness, but the origin story was done well enough that we could hardly notice. The second movie was pretty over the top in silliness but we were still hyped over from the first one to really care. The third one just exploded and caved in on itself with silliness and then people panicked. Now this new webslinging reboot I have yet to see (like a lot of movies) but I've heard its pretty solid.   July 20th; Alas finally the mega block buster comes out of the shadows and The Dark Knight Rises! How excited was I for this movie? VERY! How blown away was I by this film? Meh... not really... I'd say this was a very disappointing film... still a fun action movie that I enjoyed, but if I wanted to take it seriously against The Dark Knight I'd say this epic conclusion is out of its league. The plot is pretty dumb, there are some big plot holes, and the EPIC CONCLUSION didn't CONCLUDE correctly since it leaves itself pretty open ended. Hell its also pretty vague too since I've heard different interpretations about certain elements of the ending. I'd say it was a huge disappointment, but still one of the better movies this year.   August 17th; Hey we've come full circle, The Expendables 2! I actually did a review on that so if you can find that I'd go looking for it. It's just a fun action flick with some all time badasses. It's just fun! ParaNorman also released on the same day. I haven't seen it yet, but I really looked down on it for some time. It just seemed like a second rate 3D animated film that will be forever hidden in the shadow of Tim Burton, but from what I've heard its freaking great! I'll see it sometime soon I suppose.   September 28th; Looper... another movie that I haven't seen and didn't hear about much until just recently. I've been hearing that its probably one of the best action flicks in a while outside of the superhero genres, a classic in time travel movies, and a must see for Bruce WIllis fans. The plot sounds REALLY stupid where a man is sent people from the future he must execute and then he's sent Bruce Willis who is actually himself from the future. REALLY DUMB... or GENIUS! I can't tell, I've heard its mostly the latter. But how badass would it be to learn that you turn into BRUCE FUCKING WILLIS in the future!   October 5th; Taken 2... because... well... I really liked the first one... and I'm sure if I don't see it Liam Neeson will hunt me down or something. Frankenweenie a new Tim Burton animation... so... why not. Actually I've heard that this one is kinda an upset for Burton animation fans, so that's depressing. I've heard that ParaNorman is actually better, so that's a surprise at least. I should watch both and get back to you guys which one I think is better.   October 26th; Cloud Atlas I've seen ads for it and I can't tell if it looks amazing or it may be trying too hard. I finally got this question answered when a friend of mine came back from seeing it and he said its one of the best movies he's seen in a long time and he cannot reccomend it enough. Usually him and I have similar opinions on movies so I may take his word for it for now and I'll see how good it is some time soon. Anyone see it? Want to tell me if it is truly amazing?   November 2nd; Ah.. just yesterday Wreck-It Ralph came out and this animated movie by Disney has had TONS of hype behind it. It really has been trying to capture the spirit of video games. For a while I was buying into it seeing all sorts of cool references to some of my favorite video games. After a while I started seeing it more as just Video Game References: The Movie and I thought it would probably be just a bunch of disappointment made purely for nostalgic appeal.... and then recently THE HYPE RETURNS! I REALLY want to see this movie! Who knows it might just be a new animation classic much like the older Pixar films. A friend of mine actually said he liked it better than most of the Pixar greats which REALLY puts this film on a high pedestal. This film might be the one I choose to see when my family decides to waste their time on that other movie.   November 7th; Now to the near future! Skyfall, the new James Bond movie is set to release and you could say I'm looking forward to it. It's a James Bond movie so... really what else is there to say, he's like the Doctor Who of action movies.   December 14th; Well its... The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey! Come on... who doesn't like the new Lord of the Rings films? It may be one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time, and perhaps one of the most perfect movie trilogies since Back to the Future or Star Wars: The Original Trilogy. So The Hobbit has a lot of hype to live up to and I haven't read the book, but I'm sure it will be such an amazing journey. Perhaps the best film of the year!   December 25th; Ohh boy Christmas Day! What movie could we watch to keep up our holiday spirits? Les Miserables? Yeah one of my favorite musicals is getting a movie adaptation... and really I don't know whether to be excited or scared. I HIGHLY doubt they could ever hope to match the amazement of the play, but maybe perhaps they could try to get as cinematically close as possible.   ---   Final List:   The Secret World of Arriety The Lorax The Hunger Games The Cabin in the Woods The Avengers Brave Magic Mike Ted The Amazing Spider-man The Dark Knight Rises The Expendables 2 ParaNorman Looper Taken 2 Frankenweenie Cloud Atlas Wreck-It Ralph Skyfall The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Miserables   WOW That is a LOT of great movies this year! Now I can't attest for all of them since I haven't seen all of the yet, but I'm going with which ones I think will be the best this year has to offer. It might be easier to just decide a worst movie than a best movie which is normally harder because I'm not so easily amazed by movies these days. For a Worst Movie of the Year, I'll probably have to go with This Means War... I mean seriously... watch an ad for this thing... its really BAD! No but if I had to pick a best at this point it would have to be The Hobbit I mean come on, its a safe bet! Seriously! Unless it goes the route of The Dark Knight Rises and becomes a major disappointment I'm not too sure then. I guess Cloud Atlas if its as good as I hear or maybe its about time we have an animated film of the year and it goes to Wreck-It Ralph. Point is there's a lot of good movies!   Anyway, what do you think? Did we have a good movie year? What are some of your favorites? Which ones did I include that you didn't like? Which ones did I forget to add? Just leave a comment below.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Silent Protagonist

Okay answer this question, "Is there such thing as a good silent protagonist?"   I often wonder this question, because to me a silent protagonist can pretty much be a story killer. By silent protagonist I refer to a main character who expresses no words and no emotion throughout the whole story. This sounds like something that should be unheard of, but in the world of videogames it happens much more than you think!   Now in older 16-Bit era games this is common because with the technology it was hard to get anything out of characters other than when they touch bad guys they die. Games based specifically on gameplay like your Mario and Sonic platformers will have these silent characters just because story is really unneeded. Even in Yoshi's Island which I label as Best Game To Ever Exist And All Other Arguments Are Invalid the main characters aren't really characters, but rather avatars. Yoshi and Mario don't express any dialogue and their only emotion is to react to pain or to cry when kidnapped respectively. So these main avatars are meant to help bring you along on an experience through a wonderful land rather than tell you a story.   Now in the modern age story in games seems to be a huge focus... especially where it is not needed. Metroid for example has never been a very good story game franchise. Metroid is more for that action packed eerie exploration experience and not the narrative. Samus has never been really a character but rather a player avatar. That's why I hate what they did with Other M! They tried entirely too hard to make Samus a character in a game that really doesn't need it. They tried too hard to tell a narrative where it really shouldn't exist. It's similar to why people often criticize Sonic because the more he talks the less we like him.   There are other games though that do have a silent protagonist that I feel REALLY do suffer over it. One I keep going back to is Gordon Freeman from Half Life. Now I love the world and story of Half Life. It has mastered even making the smallest of side characters likable and very human. Making every character feel human makes you care about saving the world... so why is the main character the least human thing possible? People often answer this by saying it is so we can portray ourselves onto Gordon, which I call total bullshit because if they wanted to do that they wouldn't have given him a face or gender. And even still, why should we care about Gordon at all? He doesn't give us any human reason to care for him, no character to relate to or enjoy, so why is he looked at as some great protagonist? Also the same criticisms go for Chell from Portal. Seriously these games have such a great story focus, so why don't these characters talk like regular human beings! Obviously Valve has the skill to make good characters, just look at Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead, they have all sorts of lovable characters in their non-story games which seems like complete backwards logic to me!   ---   So in my opinion the answer of that question is that if you want to tell a good narrative, make your main character feel human so we can like them! If you are going for more of a gameplay experience, keep them silent as much as possible. Anything in between just doesn't seem to fit well in my opinion and its something that just bothers me in modern gaming.   ---   ....though there is one specific example that has me coming back to that conclusion. And that is the Mother Trilogy. In the Mother Trilogy you normally control a young 10 year old boy who never speaks, yet they have never given me the feeling that they are awful characters set in an extremely awesome narrative. It may have something to do with the subtle ways they give these boys character such as their odd reactions to things in their world. Ninten gets asthma attacks when fighting cars which brings up old childhood memories of myself being an asthmatic, Ness seems to have an odd sense of humor around him and a childlike wonder. But Lucas himself is by far one of the most interesting characters despite hardly ever talking! Just all the things he has to go through and his bizarre tragic world is just brilliant. I think I like these games so much because they have somehow combined the experience factor of games like Yoshi's Island and yet story elements like your Final Fantasies. It just goes so well together that I can't criticize it. The only modern game to get close to this I feel is Chell of Portal, Link of Windwaker, and the protagonist of Pokemon Black and White (makes sense because Pokemon is the spiritual successor to Mother). It's just hard to really perfect the combination of story and visual experience throughout gameplay.   ---   So what do you think on silent protagonists?   [EDIT: Well okay maybe not the trainer from Pokemon Black and White since they aren't much a character at all, but for some reason his/her lack of character never bothered me and it still felt close to the old feel of the Mother Trilogy.]

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

GOTY Speculation: The Assassin vs The Super Soldier

Alright so the November releases are coming upon us and usually this is a rather great time to be a huge fan of video games. November tends to be the BIG MONTH for HUGE RELEASES to come in before the holidays.   The biggest of upcoming releases as far as console games go are; Assassin's Creed III, Halo 4, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (haha, I don't much care for that last one)   Both games seem to be head to head in competition for which one I want to choose as my favorite of the year. Unfortunately it is hard to tell since neither of them are out yet, but that's why this is mere speculation....   ---   Halo 4: I already have Halo 4 preordered, and hopefully Amazon will ship it to me on release day so I can get a jump start on this one. Initially, when Halo 4 was announced I let out an unimpressed sigh of zero surprise and inevitability. Everyone saw this coming and there was no way on avoiding it. Now that sounds rather negative, but that was my insight on the game as it was announced. I wasn't happy with Halo for the time being and jumping to a new developer didn't sound promising at the time. I will miss Bungie though. Halo won't be the same without them...   But perhaps not for the worse. Halo: Reach was Bungie's last hurrah with Halo and it was a game that I loved greatly in its first few months. But something about it seemed aged and unfresh, tired one may say. The Halo Trilogy (ODST included imo) are games that I think are still ageing quite well. I can pick up any of these titles and still have fun with it. But Halo: Reach felt different, it aged a lot like milk and has spoiled greatly over time. It actually makes me physically sick to play or just look at. Maybe this is a sign that a new developer is just what the franchise needed (or to be put to rest, but that's your call really).   So I wasn't looking forward to more Halo... in fact I swore that I was pretty well done with Halo for good a while back. But recently I have been looking into the new development team and how this game has evolved. It seems as fresh as brand new! I'm really hyped to pick it up.   The storyline seems interesting, the new enemies look like a lot of fun to fight but also great to look at (that design!), and the multiplayer elements seem like a ton of fun. It actually is making me care about Halo again which is something I thought impossible a few months back.   Hell it has one of my friends who is a non-fan of Halo but a lover of Assassin's Creed saying that it looks to be some pretty stiff competition for Assassin's Creed III. Speaking of which....   ---   Assassin's Creed III: Assassin's Creed is a series I've felt pretty confused about much like in the same respect as the Halo franchise. I feel its one of the best shining examples of modern video games out there. Assassin's Creed introduced one of my favorite modern video game storylines where it follows a bloke named Desmond who relives the lives of his rather badass assassin heritage. All of this to stop some evil organization from taking over or destroying the world or something... well I'll admit I'm a bit blurry on the storyline, but its pretty damn cool.   Then it had one of the most perfect sequels I've ever played. It improved everything. The new Assassin was likable and cool, the new setting time and place was a lot of fun, and all the new gameplay and story elements revolutionized the series! I was in a deep bliss playing this game!   ...And then they went and fucked it all up! Assassin's Creed II had not just one part, not just two, but THREE goddamn parts! Two, Brotherhood, and then Revelations! Two was great, better than great its one of my favorite modern video games. Brotherhood added a rather interesting multiplayer mode, but really wasted its time with Ezio in Italy that I figured was finished by the end of Two. The multiplayer mode could've just been DLC or a separate $20 downloadable game. And Revelations seems like an even worse waste of time! There's nothing really new and the storyline doesn't really go anywhere important. In my opinion they should've just went to Three!   Now even when Three was announced I felt myself a bit disappointed. It had a similar feeling of inevitability as Halo 4's announcement but at the time I was just glad to hear that we weren't wasting more time in Two's world. Then I heard the setting was Colonial America, and for the longest time I felt like NOT playing this game just because the setting. I liked exploring time periods and settings of places I don't know too well, but being an American this just seems pretty boring to me.   But then I started to see how development was going and now I am really excited! There seems to have this more outdoors woods stealth focus. The character is not some white bread American patriot or British chap like I feared, but a half blood Native American named Connor. Having him more Native American based makes him far more interesting since I and many other Americans don't even fully understand the lives and culture of the Natives that we wiped out to get here. Jumping through the woods, sneaking up and preying on animals or people sounds exciting! The non-city locations in other Assassin's Creed games were really boring so I'm glad they are focusing on something fresh.   Unfortunately, I do not have it preordered yet, nor do I think I'll have the money to afford this title by the time of its release, but I optimistically look forward to it.   ---   Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Nah... you can keep that if you want it. I'm sure I'll be invited to my brother's to play whatever new zombie modes they have and to play a bit of the local multiplayer, but I have zero interest in this game's single or competitive multiplayer anymore.   ---   I find it odd that I find myself comparing these two games. It will be a hard comparison because they are nearly polar opposites. One has a singleplayer but is more geared towards multiplayer and the other has multiplayer but is more geared towards singleplayer. I normally find myself as a singleplayer type of player so maybe Assassin's Creed III will win me over, but something about Halo 4 just has me siding with it for now. Halo 4's singleplayer will probably be a pleasable experience in itself, but there's something about Halo 4's competitive and cooperative multiplayer that has me going back to it. It will be fun to play both of these titles and get back to you on which I liked more. November seems like a killer month to get back into gaming.   ---   (If you are getting either of these titles on Xbox 360, you can add me, Stachioed, and maybe we can play sometime or just talk over the chat)

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

Video Game Critique: Pokemon Black and White 2

Alright so I'm just about done with my Pokemon Black 2 playthrough and I figured I'd drop by and tell you what I think of it.   Well if you know me I am by far not one of those Gen 1 fanboys. I never quite got them and why they hold these older generations of Pokemon in such high regard. I guess its a nostalgia thing. I always hear that each new generation is exactly the same as the last, but worse in some way whether its the legendaries or design of each new Pokemon. I hear a lot that the new Pokemon are ugly, well though we have our own opinions on beauty I feel the older generation Pokemon are designed too simple at times and I'm glad that the newer generations have different complex designs.   But alas fanning the flames of the Gen War is something to do some other time. For now let's just focus on Gen 5... or is it Gen 5.5 now or something... I don't know.   Now if you know Pokemon you know that usually a year or so after release they release a "final" version of the game that basically combines the better elements of both versions, fixes some issues, and adds new content. I've always found Pokemon's release structure to be a bit... well let's just say unconventional. The two initial versions are made to get people to want to trade exclusive Pokemon which is alright I guess if you have a friend who gets the other version, but the 3rd version release later always bothered me. You could argue that it takes a new spin on the game a little while later, but it usually just cuts out that whole purpose of the first two anyway.   ...Luckily with Gen 5 they opted not to make a Pokemon Gray version, but something different, a direct sequel to Black and White. Black and White 2 are essentially twin Gray versions that differ so you are still encouraged to trade exclusive stuff between friends and whatnot. Also instead of literally being a re release this time the games have an original storyline.   The BW2 storyline though I will say is rather disappointing. It seems oddly reminiscent of Gen 2's story line where a broken up Team Plasma tries to pull themselves together much like Team Rocket before them. And I guess that's pretty cool except Team Plasma lost what made them unique from the other villainous teams before hand and that was their false sense of morality.   In BW1 they acted under the facade that they were liberators of Pokemon, and most team members even the elite sages and their king N believed they were these white knights, but really they were all puppets of an evil mastermind which is REALLY freaking cool and original as far as a Pokemon storyline goes.   But in BW2 its just fragments of the old team getting back together to take over the land by force using the power of a legendary Pokemon. Where have I heard this before?? Ahh... yes Generation 3 and 4! This made Team Plasma seem REALLY generic and just uninteresting. Aside from a few elements of characters from BW1 the whole storyline of BW2 is a HUGE let down and otherwise really boring.   Ironically, the game that tries to be original by being the first direct sequel, falls back to be more like previous generations than its predecessor BW1. Actually I hardly see this as a sequel aside from story elements, but rather BW2 is what BW1 would be if they decided to use no originality in the first place. Essentially this game breaks the entire purpose that Generation 5 was supposed to have and that is have a more original storyline focus.   I will admit that there are elements about BW2 I still rather like. They added in tons of older Pokemon to the Unova region where BW1 chose to be more Gen 5 pure. This allowed for more diverse teams to be made. This time around I got the Gen 5 Pokemon I adore so much, but I also got to add in some older favorites. My team as of now stands as Serperior, Arcanine, Azumaril, Crobat, Zoroark, and Black Kyurem. This is how BW1 should've been in the first place!   In the end you make your call on whether this half Gen is worth your money. I'd only recommend it to more hardcore fans of Pokemon. If you usually go out and buy the 3rd version of the games then by all means go for it, but if you're the type who would rather wait for the next real installment then give this one a pass, unless you are really interested to see where the story goes.   For me personally the storyline was what I was looking forward to the most, but as you can see I was really disappointed in how it was handled. I guess it did fill some of the plot leftover after the conclusion of Black and White, but it just felt like I'd rather have those plot points shrouded in mystery and left up for interpretation.   Guess I'll just await Generation 6 and see where they take the series from there. Until then I guess I'm pretty done with Pokemon hype for the time being until I decide to get back into competitive battling.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket

 

The End of the Rental Era

Ah yes, I remember the days when you wanted to watch a movie and perhaps you did not own said movie. Well before Netflix neatly streamed thousands of flicks on to your television screen and you did not feel like paying full price for a movie you had to drive out to your local movie rental shop.   Within the last few years I've been tossed around to at least 3 different shops, each one having to close up shop to make way for the digital revolution. I guess its just typical of an ever changing marketplace, but I can't help but feel sad to part with these stores when they have to die out.   Today I went to the big Everything Must Go! Closing Sale of the third and last of the aforementioned shops, West Coast Video. (Which is odd because I live in the Eastern United States) Its especially sad to see this one go because it is the last shop standing. It is certainly a dead market for physical rentals on movies and games.   Seeing that this may be the last time I ever see a physical rental store (outside of Redbox) I absolutely had to go to the last big hurrah at West Coast Video and unearth some old relics, if you will.   Well my West Coast Loot totaled out to 10 movies costing only $42. Certainly some of these movies I probably could've gotten cheaper elsewhere, if not for free, but I felt it was the right thing to do out of respect for a store and a dead market I've been enjoying all my life.   Well let's look over this Phat Loot shall we...   The Ringer (starring Johnny Knoxville): Okay this one isn't an all time great, hell it ain't even remotely close! But its a classic to my family at least. My mother especially loves it so it was her choice even days before the sale. Essentially the movie deals with Steve (played by Johnny Knoxville) who pretends to be a mentally challenged athlete "Jeffy Dommor" to rig the Special Olympics. The premise of the film sounds awful, but it has a heart warming ending. I think my family fell in love with the mentally challenged side characters who are pretty much the bulk of the comedy of the movie. My mother especially feels attached to the movie since her job is taking care of the mentally challenged so I can see why this is a favorite.   Remember Me (starring Robert Pattinson): Yeah I know... its THAT GUY who plays Edward of Twilight infamous for pretty lackluster acting. The ads for this movie make it out to be some Nicholas Sparks-like romance film... yeah sounds AWFUL! But it pleasantly surprised me. RPatz does a surprisingly good job at his role as a drunk college student, mostly because he actually looks the part everyday in his life. There is a cheesy romance arch of the film, but it actually only takes up half the film, the other half is a family drama dealing with him, his sister, and his father. The family drama part is what really makes the film. The romance kinda gets in the way a few times, but you can learn to live with it. It has a pretty out there twist ending too. Like it comes outta fucking nowhere and the only way to possibly see it coming is to pay attention to small subtleties that hint towards it. Yes, it does try WAY too damn hard to be a Nicholas Sparks film, but it made me like that sparkly vampire guy so it may just be the most amazing thing ever! (hyperbole)   The Social Network (starring Jesse Eisenberg): Okay I can't really say much about this movie because I haven't seen it. I've heard it talked about a ton, but I never got around to watching it. I specifically remember it being brought up a lot in my Web Design class, so I'm amazed it took me this long to pick it up. All I really know that Jesse Eisenberg (from Zombieland, and he kinda looks like a more manly Michael Cera) plays Facebook founder and social network badass, Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg is pretty much the Steve Jobs of Social Networking... and that's a pretty badass title. Like it or hate it, Facebook is definitely a cultural phenomenon and Web Design genius. Actually, it pretty much is culture, period. I've heard its also a solid film so I guess it can't be a bad movie.   Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (Nickelodeon): I feel this film is an animation classic... at least in my home. In my house, we loved Rugrats and this was pretty much one of our favorite family movies. Its a pretty fun ride that takes the humor found in the cartoon and amplifies tenfold! It also can get pretty damn depressing too if you think about it for a while. Especially the parts concerning Chucky and his dead mother. I really don't know how other people feel about this movie... I for one love it, but I don't hear it talked about much. Also, I was tempted to pick up Rugrats Go Wild! along with it, but then I remember that I dislike the Wild Thornberrys despite how "smashing" Nigel can be.   Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius (Nickelodeon): Speaking of popular household (or at least my household) animated classics from Nick, here's the movie that started what is perhaps the only good 3D Animated cartoon series to date (though the new Ninja Turtles is promising). My family likes this movie so much that it was the first movie we watched when we had Netflix Instant Streaming. Its just a fun adventure with some pretty cool characters. Like the Rugrats in Paris movie, I never hear of this one talked about. Maybe its still too new for people to be labeling things younger than the late 90s as a classic of sorts.   Atlantis The Lost Empire (Disney): Oh... you thought you could get through this without talking about Disney... well... wrong. Okay I'll admit. This isn't that great of a movie. The story is average and the characters are pretty boring. But the scenery in this movie is just FANTASTIC! And its really well animated. Is it wrong to just like a movie for a few select scenes? I think not. Perhaps this one is just for my animation interests.   The Emperor's New Groove (Disney): This is a rather hilarious film that if you haven't heard of it... wow are you like four? It's a pretty funny movie that I feel is cleverly written and pretty well animated for a Disney standard. Unlike Atlantis up above this one has a fun and interesting story and great characters. Perhaps not as well animated and not as much jaw dropping scenery, but hey we're not all perfect. Like some of the other new age animation stuff, I do not hear people talking about this one, but it seems at least well liked. You may wonder what I think of the cartoon spinoff The Emperor's New School... meh... it really failed to impress me at all.   Ponyo (Studio Ghibli): Well, I did it! I finally own a physical copy of a Studio Ghibli film, and me and my sister are very happy about it... shame they didn't have Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro but Ponyo is good enough... sorta... Well its a good movie... but I'd have to say its my least favorite of the Studio Ghibli films. The story is a bit vague, the writing and dialogue is rather lackluster especially compared to the other films. The animation though is pretty good, so I guess I like this about as much as Atlantis up above... well... maybe the original Japanese version. The English dub is pretty freaking terrible. Miley Cyrus's little sis Noah Cyrus grates on my ears, some side characters barely sound like they are trying, and Liam Neeson... HAHA, I haven't heard such out of place voice acting since Billy Bob Thorton did vocal work for Princess Mononoke! Still with all this bashing don't get me wrong, I still think its a good movie, its just Ghibli's worst from what I've seen.   Howl's Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli): Oh, I didn't just get one Ghibli film, but TWO! The main difference between this one and Ponyo up above is that I haven't seen this one yet. Actually I've barely even heard of this one other than its a Ghibli film. Though I don't usually hear it equated to the likes of Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, or My Neighbor Totoro, so as far as I know it could be another Ghibli let down like Ponyo. Still I stay optimistic and I'll make sure to watch it soon.   Oliver and Company (Disney): Arguably the best film I picked up! Well it was pretty damn hard, but I actually found something that a lot of people would agree as a Disney classic. Most big Disney films had to be bought out quickly, so this is the best I could do... luckily Oliver and Company is one of my personal favorites. I guess I really enjoy the Disney films that star animals like 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, The Fox and the Hound (beautiful, beautiful movie), and of course The Lion King. This one is no exception and is a fun adventure through the city.   Well the age of renting physical movies is over and now we have to move on to the big bad digital age... well... guess I better start forking over money for that Netflix subscription.

Colon Leftbracket

Colon Leftbracket